Diligence is investing my time and energy to complete each task assigned to me.
Diligence is accepting each task as a special assignment from the Lord
And using all my energies to do it quickly and skillfully.
Text Contributed By: Bob and Trisha Hicks
Missionaries, Helping Hands for Him
“And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;”
Five “I Wills”
I will finish all projects
Don’t you find that it is so much easier to start a project than it is to finish it? The excitement of something new gives us fresh momentum to start, but we need something more to ensure that we complete what we have started. We need to make a commitment. Before you even begin your new project, commit yourself to complete it. Jesus encourages us to “count the cost.” “For which of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it?” (Luke 14:28) In practical things, evaluate the time and energy it will take to complete the task before you begin. In spiritual things, seek the Lord before you begin. He has promised that his strength will sustain us in everything He chooses for us to be involved in. So in both practical and spiritual things, to be a completer, you must first be a counter. Counting the cost is vital.
I will do every job right.
We not only want to complete all our projects, we want to complete them accurately and thoroughly. As the Apostle Paul looked back and evaluated his years of service to the Lord, he knew that He had done just what the Lord wanted him to do. He could say with confidence, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.” (II Timothy 4:7) We should follow Paul’s example. Each day ask yourself, “Have I done my very best today?” Now, best doesn’t mean perfect. But what it does mean is that I have applied my full abilities each moment. I have given my best efforts within the time allotted for each task. If we always do things the best we can do, then it is good enough for the Lord or anyone else. The Lord doesn’t require perfection in our task, but He does require our best effort.
I will follow the instructions given.
Each character quality has its balancing quality. Diligence that is out of balance can lead to obsession, which can lead to pride. To maintain the proper balance in your character you will need humility, and you can begin to build a character of humility by diligently following instructions. Each of us has “our own way” of doing everything. But if you will submit yourself to the person giving the instructions, humility will begin to take root in your character. For the Christian, this also involves the need for me to know the Bible. The Bible speaks clearly to life’s issues. The diligent Christian humbles himself before God’s precious Word, and commits himself to know and follow its instructions.
Following instructions also requires that I be attentive. Diligence demands that I pay attention to every detail in order to accurately follow instructions. And when no instructions have been given, the truly diligent person will ask for them, if there is something he does not understand. If you’re not humble, you’re proud. There is no middle ground. Isn’t it prideful to try to carry out an important task without first asking for proper instructions as to how it should be done?
I will concentrate on my work.
Maintaining our focus is often difficult, especially if a task is mundane or routine. Making the choice to be diligent will help you keep a single focus and will lessen the influence of distractions. Daydreaming, procrastination and doodling are enemies of concentration. Don’t allow your eyes to wander. Look at the task at hand as the goal to be accomplished. Focus your concentration on the completion of the task. If you let your eyes wander, it will lead you astray, or to another task that needs doing. Those who do not focus upon the task at hand often find that at the end of the day they have begun several tasks and completed none. Another enemy of concentration is poor diet. Think ahead to the tasks you must perform. Are you consuming the types and quantities of food that will enable you to concentrate until your task is completed? The result of too many things started and none completed is discouragement, but concentration defeats discouragement. The result of concentration is accomplishment. Accomplishment brings encouragement and reward.
I will not be lazy.
“Through indolence (laziness) the rafters sag, and through slackness the house leaks.” (Eccl 10:18) None of us live in a vacuum, and if you think about it for a moment, you’ll realize that a lazy person takes energy from others. It takes energy to maintain the things we have been given. Because the lazy person will not expend his God-given energy to maintain the possessions the Lord has entrusted to him, he will have nothing in the end unless another maintains the things for him. The things we have learned about the character quality of orderliness proves this. Our world moves into disorder as a result of sin. It requires great strength and energy to maintain order in our lives, and more of the same to move beyond. So choose to be an energy giver not an energy waster. “that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” (Hebrews 6:12) Be the person others speak about in this way, “I don’t know how they do what they do.” This productivity points to the faith, patience, and promises of God. He is our strength and the giver of all energy. Our faithfulness and commitment to be diligent and not lazy is the outlet for His power to work and exhibit Himself.
Diligence in Nature
Our nature story this month is about the Beaver. Adult beavers build dams to provide protection and living quarters for their families. Building a dam is not an easy task, and its construction takes many years to complete. After it is constructed, the beavers continually give diligent effort to maintain and repair any leaks. Once a beaver has completed its own dams, it will work diligently with others to build additional dams and ledges for future generations.
What kind of “dams” are we building for our future generations? Are we diligently accomplishing the tasks the Lord has given us to do which will prepare the way for those following? Be diligent to “build” and maintain a Godly life. The life we live today will touch and influence the lives of generations to come.
Diligence in History
Benjamin Oliver Davis (1877-1970) was born into a legacy of diligence. His grandfather was a slave who bought his freedom through hard work. His father was a servant for General John A. Logan, who was so impressed with his work that he helped him secure a position as a messenger for the Department of the Interior. After graduating from Howard University, Benjamin enlisted in the U.S. Army and was soon promoted to Sergeant Major, and then to second lieutenant for his exemplary service. As professor of military science and tactics at Wilberforce University and the Tuskegee Institute, he was highly respected by the cadets in his charge, and known for his emphasis on firm discipline. After serving in the Philippines during World War I, he acted as an advisor to General Dwight Eisenhower during World War II. Then, in 1940, after 42 years of diligent and faithful service in the Army, Benjamin O. Davis become the first black general in the U.S. Army when he was promoted to brigadier general. The legacy lived on in his own son, Benjamin Oliver Davis Jr., who earned 39 medals for his heroism and outstanding service to his country and attained the rank of lieutenant general, the second highest rank in the U.S. Military.
Diligence at Home
Our homes should be places of rest and comfort. That’s what we want them to be, but if we focus too much on being rested and comfortable we can quickly end up with a home that is so poorly managed that it creates anxiety and stress. Our natural tendency is to choose the easy and fun things to do around the home. The more difficult tasks we will “do later!” Many times though, the “later” never comes, which compounds the disorder, and along with it, our stress. A choice that will ultimately encourage you is the choice to do the more difficult tasks first. Then do the things you enjoy most, last. When you choose to do the more difficult things first you are expending new energies where you need them most. The easy things, or the things we enjoy most can be done easily with the energy remaining. We can be winners at home if each member of the family will choose to be diligent. No one likes to work with a lazy person, but if each family member will choose to be diligent at home, the orderly environment that we create will ultimately increase our rest, comfort, enjoyment and nurture, It will encourage each family member, and it may well increase your witness within your neighborhood. A well maintained home can become an open place that the Lord can use to testify to Himself. Your children will feel more comfortable inviting their friends, and these are people you can influence for Christ. Your home is an area you control. Control it with pride and with diligence. “He who diligently seeks good seeks favor, but he who seeks evil, evil will come to him.” Proverbs 11:27 Diligence will bring favor and not mischief to each family member who is diligent.
Diligence at Work
“Do you see a man who is diligent in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before obscure men.” Proverbs 22:29 King Solomon is speaking here of diligence in business. What is your business? Business is whatever you do. Now, it is against our human nature to be diligent, and it will not come easy. We have attitudes and motives that war against diligence. For instance, when you are asked to do something at work, do you tend to evaluate it by how it will profit you? The Bible says we are to do all things “heartily, as unto the Lord.” It is the Lord whom we ultimately serve. We may think that we serve earthly employers because they sign our checks, but the One behind each employer is the Lord. So, the next time your employer asks you to do something, accept it “…as unto the Lord.” Accepting the fact that you will ultimately give an account to your Heavenly Father, as your ultimate employer, will help you balance your expectations at work. Nothing can come your way without the Father’s permission. Seeing your tasks at work from this perspective will cause you to be more diligent. And guaranteed, your earthly employer will appreciate the change.
Diligence at Church
God has made all kinds of Christians. Some are leaders and some followers. Don’t feel discouraged if God has not placed you in a “leadership role.” You can still be diligent and effective no matter what role you are in. In too many churches, Christian people come to be fed, but are not feeding others. Their philosophy is “I don’t have anything to give, and I’m afraid to try. I may not be successful. I’ll let someone else do it.” Are you one of the reasons why the work of your church is not going forward as it should? Get involved in the work of the church. When God prompts you toward service don’t just sit back and wait for someone else to accomplish the task. Why would He prompt you if He does not plan to equip you? Feel honored and humbled the Lord has chosen you to serve the King of Kings. Step out on faith to diligently complete the assignment from the Lord.
Diligence in the Community
We Christians are not called to be islands unto ourselves. Our families are not to be cloisters, but launching pads. Our churches are not clubs, but hospitals, filled with visiting physicians. What are you doing to minister the love of Christ to your community? Pick up the litter on the sidewalk. Visit shut-ins. Care for the homeless. Repair the car or home of the indigent. Be salt and light in the public schools. Know the politicians and political issues, and vote. Know all the neighbors on your block, and help them in their lives. Be a big brother or sister. Be a scoutmaster or soccer coach. Pray unceasingly for your community and your world. Smile at your waitress. Build a Habitat house. Support your crisis pregnancy center. Invite your neighbors into your home, and build bridges that can influence them toward Christ. Keep your opinions to yourself as you share freely the joy Christ has placed in your heart. Listen to the downhearted. Discern with the humility that keeps you from judging, then do the works that demonstrate the love of Christ, and do them over and over again. Don’t wear out, but pray for more strength. Diligence is not just doing one time. It is doing over and over again, consistently. Give, love, and go. Model this for your children and take them with you as you minister. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might unto the Lord.
This material is published by the Faith Committee of the Character Council of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. Reproduction and Adaptation is encouraged.