Authored by Marie Story
Marina Piccinini, a world-renowned flutist, travels frequently around the world. As she is often traveling for concerts, she has to take her flutes with her. Unfortunately, airport security frequently seems to think that the flutes pose a threat.
One day as she was passing through security in the Munich airport, the guards took a particular interest in her flutes. They made her open the cases and put the flutes together. Somehow, even after the flutes were assembled, the guards were still suspicious. Finally, they insisted that Marina play something on one of the flutes to prove that they were genuine instruments and not a threat.
Instead of being angry at the guards, or annoyed at the delay, Marina said to herself, “They want me to play? I’m gonna PLAY!” And she launched into Bach’s Partita in A-Minor. You have to realize that this isn’t some little ditty. It’s an intense 6-minute piece of music, with long stretches between breaths. But she closed her eyes tightly and played the whole thing straight through.
When she opened her eyes, she realized that a crowd had gathered and the terminal was silent. Then everyone burst into applause and she was waved through by the dumbfounded officials.
I wonder if I’d take that much pride in the things I do. Sometimes, sure. But other times, I just want to get it over with—and I don’t always do the best job I could.
There’s a verse in the Bible that says, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.”1 That’s easy to apply when our hands happen to find something we enjoy doing. I can play video games with all my might. I can eat pizza with all my might. I can party with all my might. But work? Study? Not always so much.
I think most of the time we just try to get our work or studies completed, without putting much “might” into it. Maybe you’re just trying to get school work done and over with, and you don’t care what kind of grades you get. Maybe there are chores you’re expected to do regularly, and you just try to make do with as quick a job as possible. I know I often do.
The Bible has a term for folks like that, though; it calls them “sluggards.” Look up “sluggard” in your Bible and you’ll see there’s not a whole lot of good predicted for them. The book of
Proverbs is full of unpleasant promises for these lazy folks. Here are a few:
Proverbs 13:4 says that the sluggard always wants stuff, but never gets much.
Proverbs 19:15 says that the idle or lazy soul is always gonna go hungry.
And Proverbs 10:4 says that the guy who works with a lazy hand will become poor.
Doesn’t sound like a very good life to me. The sluggard will have little chance of being successful at anything because he’s not willing to put in the effort. He does his work sloppily, so he won’t rise to any great heights.
The poor sluggard is short-sighted. He thinks only about his immediate comfort and enjoyment, and doesn’t bother planning for the future. Because of his laziness, the sluggard will always choose the option that requires the least work and the greatest amount of immediate satisfaction. He constantly chooses the path of least resistance—and he’s a major procrastinator. While it’s nice to just take it easy sometimes, a life of laziness will seldom lead to success or prosperity. It won’t lead to personal fulfillment either.
So what’s the alternative? Well, for every reference to the sluggard, the Bible also talks about the “diligent man.” The diligent man (or woman, of course) is the exact opposite of the sluggard, and if you can follow his example, you’ve pretty much got a recipe for success.
Here are some things the Bible has to say about the diligent man:
Proverbs 10:4 says, “Diligent hands bring wealth.”2
Proverbs 22:29 says that a diligent man will serve before kings. That means he’s promoted and respected.
Proverbs 12:24, “Diligent hands will rule.”3
And Proverbs 13:4, “The desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.”4
You don’t become a world-class musician—or a world-class anything—by being a sluggard. If you really want to be successful in life, you’re gonna have to work at it.
And you can’t just pick and choose what you’re gonna put effort into. If you choose laziness in small areas and small jobs, you’ll be building habits of laziness. However, if you take pride in even the small jobs you’re given, you’ll be building the habits that lead to a life of success.
Why go through life putting only half your heart into the things you do? Why settle for the way of a sluggard when you can get so much more out of life?
Marina Piccinini threw her all into that airport performance—just as if she had been playing in the greatest concert hall. She chose to play that flute with all her might, regardless of circumstances or surroundings. That kind of wholehearted attitude is what brings success.
It doesn’t matter what your calling in life is—what matters is how you answer that calling. There are many people born with great gifts who never amount to anything because they choose the life of a sluggard. Others are born with less natural talent, yet through their diligence they are able to achieve great things.
It’s easy to assume that people who have “made it” in their chosen field just had more inborn skill. This is sometimes the case, but not always. There are folks who achieve great success through plain hard work.
Michael Jordan is considered one of the greatest basketball players of all time. Naturally, we’d assume he was born a gifted player. That wasn’t the case, though; he was actually cut from his high school basketball team because he wasn’t good enough. Jordan became an outstanding player through intense personal discipline, pushing himself beyond the (already difficult) team practices and always expecting more of himself.
James Earl Jones, the voice of Darth Vader and Mufasa in Lion King, is an award-winning actor. He has one of the most recognizable voices in the world. However, for most of his early life he had a debilitating stutter. He says he was “practically mute” for much of his childhood, as he could barely get a word out through his stammering. How could a stutterer go on to make a fortune with his voice? He worked at it, plain and simple. He forced himself to get up and recite poetry in front of others. He practiced making the sounds that tripped him up. He knew that certain consonants gave him trouble, so he increased his vocabulary in order to give himself a greater advantage in speaking.
So what’s your excuse? Will you lope through life, dragging your heels and doing as little as possible? Or will you throw your whole heart and soul into every task you’re given, taking pride and glory in your studies, and even the smallest jobs? This is something that only you can decide.
Martin Luther King Jr. summed it up well when he said, “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.’”
1 Ecclesiastes 9:10 NIV.
2 New International Version.
3 New International Version.
4.New International Version.
Read by Amber Larriva. Music by Simon W. Copyright © 2012 by The Family International