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DILIGENCE

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This week for our theological article we will be looking at one of the seven cardinal virtues: diligence. The word itself derives from the Latin “diligentia” meaning “attentiveness” and “carefulness.” It is the practice of “careful and persistent work or effort.”

Needless to say, diligence is an extremely important quality in the Christian faith. It is where our faith begins and it is the key to fulfilling God’s purpose on earth.  In Proverbs 10:4 it is written:

“Poor is he who works with a negligent hand. But the hand of the diligent makes rich.”

Likewise, it is written in Proverbs 21:5:

“The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage. But everyone who is hasty comes surely to poverty.”

And it’s not just true for religion, either. Diligence is a key aspect of social and economic success. People renowned for their diligence include George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, Clara Barton, J.D. Rockefeller, Henry Ford, Sam Walton, Walt Disney, Bill Gates, and Oprah Winfrey.

In other words, diligence is the key to achieving “impossible” goals and developing all other virtues. As human beings, we are required to toil for the things we have, to tend the fields, mine ore, spend the majority of our lives engaged in mental or physical labour. It is how we build our character and develop our sense of self-respect.

So, how do we become more diligent? Fortunately for us, Solomon has a few words of wisdom.

First, Solomon tells us to “wake up to reality.” We cannot be diligent while our minds are still stuck in the clouds.

Second, define your visions. If you expect to get somewhere, you have to know where you are going. Defining your goals, coming up with a mental picture of what you would like to achieve makes it significantly more likely you will be successful.

Third, effectively partner. You are not infallible, therefore you need to work with others who will offset your personal limitations.

Fourth, build your life upon the pursuit of wisdom. Use good judgement, knowledge, and experience as stepping-stones to success.

SELF MASTERY

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This week for our theological article, King Alfred Press will be exploring the quest for self-mastery and its importance in living a pious life.

For years, “living in the moment” has been popular advice among self-help gurus. No need to learn from history, no need to think about the consequences of your behaviour, the only thing that matters is satisfying present desires.

However, there is a fundamental problem with living in the moment: it causes you to act impulsively.  You become a slave to circumstance. You end up becoming the sort of person who engages in unhealthy, short-term relationships, you become the sort of person who spends without thought and rack up massive credit card debts.  Compulsive eaters have been known to literally eat themselves to death, and there is little need to discuss the relationship between crime and the intoxicating effects of alcohol.

The rational antidote, then, to living in the moment is to orientate yourself towards self-mastery. By doing so, we can live pro-active, Godly lives. God expects us to be diligent with what we have and where we are before we move forward with our lives.  As it is written in the Gospel according to Luke (chapter sixteen, verse ten):

“If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are
dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities”

Self-mastery helps you achieve mastery of your own emotions, affections, likes, and desires.

So, how do you go about achieving self-mastery? Well, I cannot pretend to have the answers. However, it is eminently obvious that changing your daily habits is a good place to start.

First, engage in daily prayer. It will help you quieten your mind and communicate with God.  Read your Bible or Torah. Remind yourself every day of what God expects of you. Second, practice self-denial. Third, do things deliberately, with purpose – act as though everything you do matters. Fourth, don’t lie – especially to yourself. The only way to overcome your problems is by being honest about them. Fifth, take care of your mind, body, and your surroundings. As Professor Jordan B. Peterson famously advises: “clean your room!” Keep your workspace clean and tidy, put everything where it belongs, make yourself orderly.