Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Lessons on Diligence

“The disciplined person rises courageously, even heroically, to meet life and conquer it. He resolutely faces his duty. He is governed by a sense of responsibility. He has inward resources and personal reserves which are the wonder of weaker souls. He brings adversity under tribute and compels it to serve him.  ”

— Richard Shelley Taylor

Confession time: when God whispered the word "diligent" in my ear for 2016, I kind of thought I'd have it easy. I figured that I was mostly diligent, that I did a great job of sticking to things, that I was good with follow through. I had myself fooled. Big time. 

Over the past few weeks it's come like a little nagging (though not in a bad way nagging) whisper. Diligence. As I pass by my kids' rooms and notice that they've cleaned up in hope of me making their beds. (A deal we worked out to motivate them to clean.) Normally I would keep walking, but diligence calls me to do the job now and do it right. When the workout has only 10 minutes to go, and I am tempted to call it quits. (Which I have done so often in the past.) Diligence tells me to finish strong. When a task is difficult and I'd rather ignore it, diligence tells me to do it now and do it to the best of my ability. 

This diligence thing isn't for the faint of heart. Maybe that's because it doesn't look much different than discipline. Oh, we know it's an unpleasant word, but it's a necessary one if we're ever going grow. I'd rather grow, wouldn't you? 

The writer of Hebrews reminds me of this truth. 

"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:11

It's about the training. I'm learning that being diligent is about the follow through, that consistent steady effort that gets the work done with a joyful heart. I'm more apt to call it quits part way through. My default is to put certain things off until later. Or if not, then I'll do the work with a grumpy heart. None of that speaks to the diligent follow through that I know God is asking of me during this season. It's been an ugly revelation that in the past I'd rather choose anything other than diligence. Thankfully, God is graciously calling me to something better. 

I'm painting barns these days. And because I'm still new at this, I'm making lots of mistakes. But diligence tells me to keep trying, even when it feels like all I'm doing is wasting time. I've been challenged to paint the same barn over and over until I work out some of those mistakes. I'm learning that those mistakes aren't setbacks, they're simply showing me what I need to work on. Diligence calls me to come back and try again, learning from those mistakes. 

Because the result of diligence and discipline is a harvest of not only righteousness, but peace. I'm noticing that there's tremendous peace when I don't leave things undone. There's the fruit of rest because I'm not thinking about all the half-assing I'm prone to. Honestly, it's a lot easier to half ass things. But diligence calls me to something better, and to something with a better reward: peace and righteousness. I like the sound of that. 

God might not be asking you to be diligent in all the things like he is me, but I would challenge you to choose one area where you may have been lacking diligence in the past. What would change if you were to approach that area with consistent steady effort? 

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