Does the word “diligence” give you the heebie jeebies, former procrastinators?
If the word makes you nervous, take heart. The dictionary and scripture both give us a user-friendly perspective.
Merriam-Webster says diligence is “steady, earnest, and energetic effort, persevering application.” The word’s history referenced speed. That can remind us to get on a task right away.
A while back I began to see that I had slothful habits. I was a very productive hard worker. At the same time, I was often tardy, delayed tasks, and had a pile up of work. The ant in Proverbs 6: 6-11 gave insight into my behavior.
Go to the ant, O sluggard;
consider her ways, and be wise.
7 Without having any chief,
officer, or ruler,
8 she prepares her bread in summer
and gathers her food in harvest.
9 How long will you lie there, O sluggard?
When will you arise from your sleep?
10 A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest,
11 and poverty will come upon you like a robber,
and want like an armed man.
“Prepares…in summer / gathers…in harvest” jumped out at me. There’s a time to work and a time to reap the benefits of the work. If I don’t do the work in its season, I won’t get the benefits in that season. I will come up short – poverty upon me.
I worked hard doing work I preferred instead of the work that was needed at the time. No wonder I was tardy, behind, stressed. Diligence is doing what needs doing when it needs doing.
We have an encouraging definition and illustration. Yet we have gotten the idea that diligence means three things it does not: 1) constant work 2) taking on every job 3) accepting only perfection. We’ll talk about each of those this month – and dispel the myths.
What can you do this week in order to benefit later?