Well known among our friends that we had an ownership interest in a dry clean/laundry company, one day several years ago a young single mother, barely twenty years old, stepped up to my wife and literally rubbed her shoulder against my wife’s. Startled by the unexpected close contact Kathy turned to the young woman and inquired, “What’s up?” The animated friend enthusiastically replied, “I’m trying to get some of that ‘rich’ to rub off on me!”
To this startling declaration my wife insightfully replied, “Oh, Dear, that’s not how things work. Success does not come so easily. In order to accomplish what you want in life you will have to strive for it! It will not just happen because you are at the right place at the right time knowing the right people. You will have to be diligent and work hard! The hard work will likely be tedious, repetitive and devoid glamour!”
It is a seriously misguided notion that merely by association you can attain success in business or in any area of life. If that were so our prisons would not be bulging at the seams, because surely most inmates have been associated with others who were succeeding in life before they committed the crime which resulted in their incarceration. Without diligence and hard work you will likely attain nothing other than frustration and failure in your quest for success.
Proverbs 6:6-8 says, “Go to the ant, O sluggard, observe her ways and be wise, which having no chief, officer or ruler, prepares her food in the summer and gathers her provision in the harvest.”
While my wife’s friend may have had some understanding of the necessity of hard work, perhaps she failed to fully appreciate the concept of diligence. Diligence means to persevere—to refuse to give up or give in. Whether it be giving up to the temptation to take short-cuts, or giving in to discouragement, if you are diligent you will keep going and continue doing what’s right despite the difficulties.
After her interaction with the energetic shoulder-rubber that day my wife commenced to frequently ask me to consider her when an opening in our company came up. Although we periodically hired new staff, we seldom had a place for an inexperienced twenty-year-old with no education and training other than a fresh GED. Finally, nearly two years later, when we opened a new store we had a position available for which we could train an inexperienced clerk. She was elated when we called her for an interview.
Initially, upon completion of her training she demonstrated contagious enthusiasm; her dress and appearance was impeccable. As the days began to drag on when I stopped in to visit the store where she worked I to noticed her dress and grooming standards had slacked. Whereas initially she wore skirts and smart business attire, she began to dress for work much more casually.
Finally, one day, while conducting a periodic inventory I noticed an anomaly. Upon closer examination of our point-of-sale computer system I discovered that the formerly cheery employee had been stealing. Although she started out taking small amounts of cash, by the time I fully understood her crime she had stolen a significant sum. The excruciating betrayal we sensed was rivaled only by our disappointment—our high hopes for her would not be realized.
To be diligent means to persevere when your job is tough. By the very definition of the word, if accomplishing your duty is easy, you are not persevering. Before you can persevere it must be challenging! Difficulty will come even though uninvited—sometimes in the form of temptation to take short-cuts—such as stealing. If you fail to persevere and succumb to the temptation to give up and give in, whether to mere sloppiness or criminal acts, you will eventually suffer the consequences.
When challenges come, if you determine to persevere don’t expect the pain to be any less subtle—but the rewards are worth the trouble—be diligent and work hard and you’ll eventually enjoy the fruits of your labor. Unfortunately our shoulder-rubbing friend chose the seemingly convenient, but ultimately dead-end way. Which way will you chose?
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.