“Whatever you do, work at it with your whole heart, as though you were working for God rather than for men (Col.3:23)
A story goes about a donkey which fell on a very deep dry well, so deep the owner gave up trying to rescue the poor animal. In desperation, the farmer shoveled dirt in to bury the donkey and so fill in the risky hole, thus avoiding similar incidents in the future. Initially, the donkey protested and brayed loudly, dodging the dirt that fell on its back. The farmer kept shoveling but the donkey persistently shook the dirt off, increasing the mound and enabling it to stand higher and higher. The farmer realized how the donkey makes its way up, so he shoveled more dirt into the well, until at last the poor animal escaped from the terrible pit. The farmer hugged his poor animal with newfound admiration on how it found a way out of its poor condition through diligence and persistence.
The Virtue of Diligence
Diligence is so much associated with work, among other things. The virtue of diligence speaks of similar virtues like tenacity, persistence, consistency, perseverance and dedication. Diligence may be described as an attitude exhibiting constant and earnest effort to accomplish what has been undertaken, regardless of the circumstances surrounding a person. In fact, diligence is shown when the conditions surrounding you and your work to be accomplished are unfavorable. As a saying attributed to Joseph Kennedy goes, “When the going gets tough, the tough gets going.” Hard times, challenges, controversies, tough times, crises, low funds, insufficient resources – yes they abound us, and they cripple us at times, disabling us to carry out the work we need to accomplish. In point of fact, tough times measure our diligence; tough times measure our toughness, our decisiveness, our persistence, our endurance, our personal character.
Diligence in the Scripture
The Holy Scripture speaks of diligence not only in relation to work, but even in matters pertaining to the spiritual life of the person. Jesus speaks of diligence or persistence even in prayer. He spoke of a parable about a man who knocked on the door of one of his friends to ask for bread in the middle of the night. His friend will open the door and hand him a loaf of bread out of his persistence in calling out to his friend (Lk. 11:5-8). He also spoke of a woman who asked a judge with due diligence to serve her justice. The judge, in turn, will serve her request; otherwise, she will never stop her persistent bothering (Lk. 18:1-8).
St. Paul reminded the Galatians “not to grow weary in doing good, for in due time, we will reap our harvest (Gal.6:9). St. James affirms this when He said that “blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test, He will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who loved Him (James 1:12).” All these point to the fact that our God teaches us what He himself is – a diligent God. The long years that the Father diligently and patiently worked with His chosen people to fulfill His promised salvation, His Son’s example to set his foot on earth as a man like us except sin and accomplishing the mystery of our salvation the hardest way, and the Holy Spirit guiding the Church of God until this age – all teach us that we have a God who teach us to follow Him, love the things we are called to do, and diligently work them out to completion. St. Paul reminds the people of Colossae that “whatever you do, work at it with your whole heart, as though you were working for God rather than for men (Col. 3:23), knowing that in the Lord, our labor is not in vain (1Cor. 15:58).”
GROWING IN DILIGENCE
- Get to notice of the things or factors that make it difficult for you to be diligent, such as too tired, everybody wants instant results, so many distractions like TV, videos, social media, lack of focus, etc. What can you start to eliminate in order to remedy your situation? You can perhaps start to take away one of those that distract you.
- Make “I will” statements like I will finish my projects before Saturday, I will concentrate on my work, I will not use Facebook tonight, etc…
PRAYER FOR THE VIRTUE OF DILIGENCE
God our loving Father, Your Son Jesus raised the dignity of work when He came among us as a carpenter’s son. He has labored diligently to accomplish your work of salvation for us, even to the cross. Inspired by Your Son’s example of diligence, we pray that your Holy Spirit will stir in our hearts diligence in our work, dedication to our vocation and persistence in our faith. May our experience of difficulties and downfall never take our vision from achieving what you desire to accomplish for ourselves, for others and for your Kingdom. And, by your grace, may we find the fruits of salvation which we have labored diligently here on earth. We ask this through Christ our Lord. AMEN.