The ABC’s of Wisdom: Building Character with Solomon - Diligence
Staying by the Stuff
Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.
Ponder this definition of diligence: “Long, steady application to one’s occupation or studies; persistent effort.” That’s clear, isn’t it? If you want to make it to the top in any field of endeavor, you need many things working in your favor. Some of them can’t be orchestrated but must be supplied by the Lord’s providential favor. However, Solomon teaches us that you can tip the scales of life in your favor through “long, steady application” and “persistent effort.”
Often that will require persistence in the face of doubt and ridicule. Michelangelo took a piece of marble that no one else could use and eventually produced the incomparable David. Christopher Columbus ignored his critics and eventually discovered America. Skeptics tried to convince Henry Ford to abandon his idea of a mass-produced motorcar. People laughed at Wilbur and Orville Wright when they attempted to create a flying machine. But in each case diligence won the day.
Most of us have heard the story of Thomas Edison and the invention of the incandescent light bulb. For months he struggled to find the proper material for the filament inside the bulb. Nothing seemed to work. Some materials would conduct electricity but wouldn’t produce light; others produced light but immediately burned up. Month after month he stayed in his laboratory in Menlo Park, New Jersey, doggedly trying one combination after another. Eventually he had tried 799 different combinations. “Don’t you feel like you’ve wasted your time?” someone asked him. “Oh no,” Edison replied, “now I know 799 things that won’t work.”
In a recent article in Leaders for Today, Harold Keown examined the lives of Christian leaders from many countries and asked how it was that, in the face of intense opposition, they accomplished so much for Jesus Christ. His conclusion startled me: “People serious about achieving seemingly impossible goals often assume the stance of a turtle.”
It sounds strange because turtles seem like anything but a role model for outstanding achievers. But it’s true. As Aesop pointed out several thousand years ago, the turtle plods along even though he is soon passed by the swift-running hare. But who gets to the finish line first? The turtle, because he just kept on going. That’s a turtle truism: Successful people just keep on going despite the opposition, despite their apparent lack of progress, despite the fact that others pass them by. They stay the course, keep moving ahead, always marching toward godly goals.
Calvin Coolidge summed it up well when he said, “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”
Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (KJV). Do you feel defeated today, trapped on a dead-end street? Remember the turtle and take hope. You can do more than you think you can.
Lord God, forgive me for giving up too soon. Create in me new determination to keep on moving in the right direction. Amen.
Have you ever known someone who succeeded in some worthwhile project through nothing more than sheer determination and persistence?
Can you think of a part of your life where you are currently tempted to give up too soon? What do you need to do about it?
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