The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied. Proverbs 13:4
We may “crave” to grow spiritually, but it won’t happen without diligent effort. Of course we don’t work to earn our salvation or God’s approval or favor – that’s all of grace. But we must be faithful to pursue God as well. It is the diligent person – the one who keeps on plodding day after day, faithfully reading her Bible, praying, fellowshipping, listening to messages – who will have her soul richly supplied.
In the Parable of the Talents, the master expected his servants to be faithful with small amounts he gave each of them. He said to each of the servants who had been diligent, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.”
There aren’t many superstars in the kingdom of God. Not many have super gifts. Most of us are just average. Gifted in small ways. But if we are faithful to use the gifts we have and serve in whatever ways we can, God will increase us.
Even in the world diligence and faithfulness matter more than talent. Many of the most successful people have hundreds of failures in their fields. But they keep trying and trying.
Here are a few quotes from The Little Big Things: 163 Ways to Pursue EXCELLENCE by Thomas J. Peters
(1) To succeed, you have to try more stuff than the other guy—fast. (2) If you try more stuff in a hurry, you’ll make lots of mistakes. (It’s an Iron Law of Nature.) (3) Hence, screwing up a lot is a very good sign of progress—perhaps the only sure sign. (4) If we aim to (more or less) maximize screw-ups, then we must do more than “tolerate” screw-ups. (5) We must “encourage” screw-ups. (6) We must cel-e-brate screw-ups!
As Les Wexner, founder of Limited Brands, once told me: “In fashion, your batting average is never anywhere near 1000. Your strikeouts will always, over time, surpass your hits—especially your home runs. So a buyer with no mistakes is taking no chances—the kiss of death in this business; and cause for a poor evaluation. The buyer who will hit home runs, like power hitters in baseball, will also have a bushel of swinging strikeouts. I will in fact reward those swinging strikeouts—as the price of the home runs that are required for our growth.”
“Success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.” —Winston Churchill
“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” —Michael Jordan
If diligence and faithfulness are so important in the world, then let us disciples of Jesus be diligent to pursue him, use our gifts, and serve others.
It is better to read your Bible 15 minutes a day than once a week for two hours. Small acts of faithfulness add up over time. If you give $1 a day to the poor, that’s $365 a year. In 10 years, almost $4000. Most of us could not pray for two hours straight, but 15 minutes a day is almost 2 hours in a week. Read one page a day of a spiritual book or a biography – 365 pages in a year. That’s a pretty big book. One short encouraging email a day would be… well, you get the idea.
What is one small thing you could begin to practice today?
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Mark Altrogge has been senior pastor of Sovereign Grace Church of Indiana, Pennsylvania, since 1982. He has written hundreds of songs for worship, including “I Stand in Awe” and “I’m Forever Grateful.” Mark and his wife, Kristi, have four sons and one daughter.
Find out more on his blog, The Blazing Center.