Character Building – Persistence and Diligence
For most of us, absolutely nothing comes easy. As we watch the Olympic athletes at this year’s Winter games, it is fascinating to hear the back story about the price these young people have paid to be top in their sport. One skier talked about wishing she could let up, take a nap or watch a movie instead of practicing and practicing. But her coach advised her that would not get her where she wanted to go. She had to dig in and keep working.
Parents often find themselves in those coaching struggles with their children. Kids may want to sluff through on chores. You have to make them come back and do them over. (And over, sometimes!) You may have to be the “bad cop” when it comes to practicing the musical instrument they convinced you they wanted to learn to play. Persistence and diligence are required if they want to get beyond those early basic songs and drills.
For one of our children, academic things came pretty easy – until he got to about 5th grade when things took that cognitive jump. He was upset that he was actually going to have to work at his schoolwork. He would have to think, and struggle, and strive to learn. Of course, I could have softened things, made them easier, dumbed them down. Moms are often tempted to easy our kids’ load, to make things fun, but that would not have served him well in the long run. His mind was made for higher things and greater challenges. So, in spite of his objections, he had to press through.
What does scripture say about diligence?
He becomes poor who works with a slack and idle hand, but the hand of the diligent makes rich. (Pr. 10:4 Amp. Classic)
The hand of the diligent will rule, but the slothful will be put to forced labor. (Pr. 12:24 Amp. Classic)
Whatever may be your task, work at it heartily (from the soul), as [something done] for the Lord and not for men. (Col. 3:23 Amp. Classic)
Paul talked about pressing in when things were difficult. (Phil. 3:12-1
It is important to help kids learn to do hard things. Teens who have not had to do chores, who have not learned to manage money, who have not had to pay for any car insurance or expenses will have a rude awakening when they leave home.
One of our children had learning disabilities. Learning to read was difficult. Thankfully, a friend who was an education expert encouraged me to be even more thorough with teaching her the phonics foundations as she learned to read. In time she became a great reader, though not fast. She read with great understanding and recall. She reads classics for fun now. Throughout her difficult school years, she fought and trudged through. Now she knows she can do anything. She can learn anything. She is an accomplished young woman with a great job because of her persistence and diligence.
Help your children set goals to accomplish hard things, whether it is becoming an Eagle Scout, learning to play and instrument, taking a college class during high school, or building a model of a historic building. Help them see the steps it will take. Break giant tasks into bite-sized pieces. Help them hang in there instead of giving up when it becomes difficult. Then celebrate the reward they receive for their persistence and diligence.
For more parenting help go to www.IntentionalParenting.us or consider my book, Intentional Parenting: A Guide for Christian Parents. There is also a Small Group guide with discussion questions for couples or groups.