You don’t luck into things as much as you’d like to think you do. So you build step by step, whether it’s friendships or opportunities.
Secrets ~Barbara Bush
“The hand of the diligent will rule, but the slack hand will be put to forced labor.”
Proverbs 12:24, AMP
God has equipped you to handle difficult things. He has already planted the seeds of discipline and self-control inside you. You have to water those seeds with His Word to make them grow!
There are 2 secrets of success discovered in ancient Hebrew writings that are as real today as they were then they were first out to paper hundreds of years before the birth of Christ.
Do you ever feel overwhelmed by all of the ads, newsletters, and pop-ups that promise success, 6-figure incomes, and radically different lifestyles if you only signup for their “life-altering, exclusive program?”
Have you ever been approached by someone who wanted to sign you up for their fabulous direct-sales, direct-service multilevel marketing system?
In 1992, my wife introduced me to a couple, Andy and Joan Horner, who were the founders of Premier Designs Jewelry, a direct-service company located in the Dallas area. Over the next 29 years, we were able to develop a flourishing business that not only enriched our lives with financial rewards but with life-long friendships and opportunities to share hope with people all across the U.S.
Here is the hard truth, all of these programs have worked for someone!
What is one of the lessons we learned from our journey? Success will not attack you. I think the Scripture says it best, “The hand of the diligent will rule, but the slack hand will be put to forced labor.” Proverbs Another way of looking at it is that the diligent will succeed, and the person who does not apply themselves will become an indentured servant (in our day, a slave to credit cards).
Hard work, focused attention, a resilient mindset, and dealing with your internal negative self-talk and hurtful life experiences takes diligence and intentionality. The good news is that the Lord will be with you through the process of using these 2 steps2 secres when you invite him into the process.
Before moving forward I’d like to suggest a unique definition of success.
The measurement of success is simply the ratio of talents used to talents received: What you are doing with what you’ve got, plus who you are becoming. Are you a growing, maturing person of faith? Whether you work in business or in Christian work, or as a day laborer, professional, or academic, if you are a growing Christian using a significant percentage of your talents, you are successful. Be glad.
In this article, I will reveal how to become more intentional and diligent as you push back the fear(s) of taking the next step in your life’s journey.
One of the several themes even a casual reader of the Book of Proverbs will catch is the concept of diligence or intentionality. Long before any psychologist, life coach, or mental health professional thought about living an intentional life, King Solomon had written about it.
Here are a couple of definitions that will help you grasp the concept.
Intentional means deliberate, calculated, intended, conscious, willful, or purposeful.
Diligence is a learnable skill that combines creative persistence, a smart-working effort properly planned and rightly performed in a timely, efficient, and effective manner to attain a pure result and of the highest quality of excellence.
Have you ever noticed how we as humans always look for the path of least resistance, the shortcut, or the cheat sheet? Solomon rightly understood that we need to be motivated to choose diligence and intentionality over our natural tendency to “go with the flow.” And what is motivation? Being truly diligent, he tells us, brings valuable rewards, while a lack of diligence can have devastating consequences.
Here are some critical elements lifted from the Book of Proverbs. I hope you will strongly consider using them as you push back unproductive fear.
You will gain an advantage other do not have.
In anything, would you rather have a substantial advantage or a permanent handicap? King Solomon assures us that diligence will gain an insurmountable advantage over those who are not. He says, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage.” (Proverbs 21:5). Applying this to our fears means we can learn to turn our fears away from things that steal our energy into thoughts that can propel us forward.
You will be in control of the situation (fear) rather than have the situation (fear) control you.
It comes right back to the choices you and I make. The critical question is, would you prefer to have your life controlled by the dragons fear, or would you instead monitor and manage your fear and make it work for you? Solomon says, “The hand of the diligent will rule, but the slack hand will be put to forced labor.” (Proverbs 12:24, AMP). Those who are truly careful not only control their destiny but enhance the achievements of those around them as well.
You will experience true fulfillment.
Have you ever noticed how hungry Americans are for things? Americans today have more debt and fewer savings than any other generation in our nation’s history. Yet, no matter what we have, it never seems to be enough. Contentment and a sense of genuine fulfillment seem to be about as rare as a winning lotto ticket. In stark contrast, Solomon tells us, “The appetite of the diligent is abundantly supplied.” (Proverbs 13:4 AMP). The word appetite can mean our innermost being, our core, the seat of our emotions and personality. Can you imagine what it would feel like to be so content and fulfilled that you craved nothing? This feeling is the kind of fulfillment that can result from intentionality and diligence.
You will attain the respect and admiration of those in authority.
While others fight to be noticed, the diligent are sought out to be people in positions of power or prominence. That is what Solomon means when he says the diligent individual “will stand before kings” (Proverbs 22:29).
Your needs will be satisfied.
Those who work diligently to deal with life’s issues and their chosen field of expertise will achieve enough material success to satisfy their needs. In Proverbs 28:19, Solomon writes, “He that tills his land shall be satisfied, but he who follows vain persons is void of understanding.” Suppose you stray from your field of endeavors, like building your business or listening to fear, to follow vain people or their advice. In that case, you will lose your path to understanding. Thurman’s modern translation, “Don’t be deceived by individuals who look successful on the surface and offer ‘get rich quick schemes that sound too good to be true. They are. In the words of Jenny in the movie Forest Gump, “Run, Forest, Run!”
You will experience ever-increasing success.
Solomon assures us that those who diligently labor will experience success, and wealth will continually grow. Still, money that comes to us quickly, without significant effort, will nearly always be lost. Applying this principle to pushing back fear, you will experience increased joy and confidence as you learn to defeat fear. Proverbs 13:11 (NLT) says, “Wealth from get-rich quick schemes quickly disappears; wealth from hard work grows over time.”
Your efforts will be profitable.
Solomon promises that all diligent labor results in profit that the achievement of your goals can measure and the financial rewards you receive for achieving those goals. This principle can be readily applied to pushing back fear. In Proverbs 14:23 (NLT), he says, “In all labor there is profit, but mere talk leads to poverty.” Suppose you apply that energy to your marriage, parenting, overcoming fear, building your business, or your spiritual pilgrimage. In that case, your profit will be measured by the amount of fulfillment you and your family will gain.
On the other hand, mere talk, Solomon warns, is cheap and easy and only leads to poverty. A diligent, intentional effort is demanding. It requires effort, vision, creativity, commitment, fellow travelers, and active partnering. Solomon tells us that if you are not profitable in your career, have trouble managing fear, or your relationships are not as fulfilling as you wish, you are probably not working diligently enough. Conversely, applying diligence and intentionality to any area of our lives always brings favorable results.
So, What Happens If You Fail to be Diligent and Intentional?
Our greatest motivations in life are the desire for gain and the fear of loss. Solomon attempts to motivate us with both. However, if his seven rewards don’t provide the motivation you need to pursue diligence and intentionality, perhaps the consequences of not being diligent will give you a reality check.
You will always be at an insurmountable disadvantage.
The hard-working, intentional person puts in the time to plan and prepare to perform with excellence. Those who are not diligent and fail to prepare, plan, or perform will either experience an arduous journey or fail to achieve what they set out to do. Solomon says, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage. But everyone who is hasty (comes) surely to poverty,” Proverbs 21:5 NLT.
You will be ruled.
I do not know anyone who likes living a life that feels out of control. We hate being controlled by others, by events, and by fears. Solomon warns, “The hand of the diligent will rule, but the slack hand will be put to forced labor,” Proverbs 12:24 KJV. If you want to keep fear, anxiety, and worry away, then you have to do the work.
Solomon’s Steps to Bring Diligence and Intentionality into Your Life.
Being diligent and intentional requires time and effort. But, the good news is that it will bring about amazing results. Solomon gives us four steps we can use to increase diligence and intentionality:
Step # 1 – Wake up and Smell the Coffee
“But you, lazybones, how long will you sleep? When will you wake up? A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest—then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; scarcity will attack you like an armed robber,” Proverbs 6:9-11 NLT.
Don’t be asleep to the realities around you. If you fail to deal with fear, it will deal with you. It will rob you, steal your joy, and remove the opportunity. The clock is ticking, and we are not guaranteed tomorrow. That is why it is essential to deal with the fear, anxiety, stress, and worry holding you back. Wake up and realize you can bring intentionality and diligence into your life. As you take the powerful, faith-filled steps to push back fear and get in the game, your opportunities will be multiplied. Assume responsibility for your life, your attitudes, your values, and how you spend your time.
Step #2 – Define Your Visions
Solomon hit the nail on the head in Proverbs 28:19: “Without a vision, the people perish.” Another way to look at this verse is this: Where there is no vision, we lose our direction, our motivation, our joy, our passion, our energy, our creativity, and our commitment. Thankfully, the opposite is true. Whenever you bring a new vision into your life, you gain new power, insight, and a refreshed sense of purpose.
Whether you are building a business, starting a ministry, or learning new ways to overcome fear, stress, anxiety, and worry, you will discover direction, motivation, strength, joy, passion, peace, and creativity. Defining and clarifying your vision is a fundamental component in developing diligence and intentionality. Bringing these two powerful forces into your life will be a huge blessing. In Proverbs 6:6-7, Solomon tells those who lack diligence to look at the ant, which “have no prince or governor or ruler to make them work, they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter.” NLT In other words, the ant is so mission-focused that even without any external controls, it does what it needs to do for its benefit and the benefit of the colony.
Step # 3- Effectively Partner
“Plans go wrong for lack of advice, many advisers bring success.” Proverbs 15:22 NLT
When looking at partnering, I am referring to the help of advisors, counselors, other successful people, mentors, and anyone else who can provide you with the knowledge and skills needed to achieve your mission.
Step # 4 – Pursue Wisdom; Build Your Life Upon it
“How much better it is to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding is to be chosen above silver,” Proverbs 16:16 NLT.
The final component critical to becoming an intentional, diligent person is pursuing wisdom and building your life upon its foundation. Solomon tells us to seek wisdom as if it were a hidden treasure. Unfortunately, true wisdom is rarely found lying on the ground in plain view.
Instead, wisdom is a treasure that must be searched out, and those seeking it must often dig for it.
There are three kinds of people who work:
Those who make things happen.
Those who watch things happen.
Those who have no idea what has happened!
Which category are you in?
When it comes to pushing back fear, overcoming adverse circumstances, or building a business, being intentional and diligent will give you the power you need to succeed.
Hope is the underlying principle for all change. People change because they have hope, and if people don’t have hope, they will not change.
The Bible says, “Hope deferred make the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life,” Proverbs 12:13 NLT.
Here is what happens when individual experiences deferred hope. When a person loses their dream, the joy of living becomes replaced with the mere act of surviving or just getting by—the downward spiral from joy to subsistence, into depression, and ultimately despair. Unfortunately, no one I know aspires to this.
My observation is that people who have lost hope, particularly in a business venture, didn’t have a clear vision or dream that would sustain them in the lean times. Instead, they had wishes. Vision without action is only daydreaming. Action without vision is just random activity. Both of these behaviors lead to nowhere happy. But when you combine work with a powerful dream or vision, you can change the world.
In next week’s post, I will give you six steps that will enhance hope.
May God bless you as you take steps to become more intentional and diligent in all of your endeavors.