When I was a child, my parents both worked as school teachers. An easy job? No way! If you've never had the experience of standing in front of a group of people and teaching, let me assure you -- it is exhausting work!
And at the end of the day, when classes were over and we returned home, the day wasn't really over. Because there were still papers to grade and lesson plans to write. It seemed like a never-ending job.
But one thing I remember about those days is that, during the spring time, and again in the fall, when dad returned home from school, he could often be found out in our garden. Planting vegetables, hoeing, pulling up weeds, fertilizing...
Another never-ending job.
And mom -- she would be in the kitchen, preparing another great meal for all of us...four boys who ate so much, and rarely remembered to thank her for her hard work.
Not just a never-ending job, but often a thankless one as well.
There were days when I'm sure dad didn't feel like being out in the garden pulling up weeds. There were days when I'm sure mom didn't feel like diving into the kitchen work. There were days when I'm sure neither of them wanted to sit down in the evening to grade papers and plan the next day's lessons.
But they continually did these things, day after day. There is a word that describes this behavior: diligence.
Diligence means: constant and earnest effort to accomplish what is undertaken; persistent exertion of body or mind.
Important tasks are often accomplished only through great diligence. If the garden is not weeded regularly, the weeds choke out the plants, and there are no crops. If the kitchen work is not done, the boys go hungry. If the lesson plans and grading are not done, the students stop learning, eventually the administration becomes unhappy, and in the long run there is no paycheck!
Diligence is a vital part of life, but in a society which wants nothing more than to be entertained, diligence often takes a back seat. We forget how to put our mind, our body, and our heart into a task and never look back.
In one of his epistles, Peter tells us to "make every effort", which simply means to be diligent. Perhaps more than any other area of our lives, the spiritual life requires diligence.
Unfortunately, we tend to hope that our spiritual lives will blossom without consistent, faithful, determined, constant and earnest effort. It won't happen. How diligent are you in your spiritual disciplines?
This object lesson is part of a series of "one-word lessons" from 2 Peter 1:5-8. Each week in our youth group I am teaching one word from those verses.