In my study of some of the greatest leaders in the world, hard work was the second-most common trait of people who reach the top of their professions. Hard work is one of my favorite subjects and a passion of mine. Hard work is something anyone can do it only a few choose to do so. Nothing of significance happens in a leader’s life without hard work.
One of my favorite leaders is Chuck Bengochea. In addition to being the current Chief Executive Officer of Family Christian Book Stores and former CEO of HoneyBake Hams, Chuck is a world-class Iron Man contestant in his age category. Because I served under his leadership when he was the Chairman of the Elders for Fellowship Bible Church in Roswell, GA, he and I became great friends. Once, I interviewed him for a business leaders Bible study I was conducting and asked him about the subjects of hard work and perseverance. Chuck’s words stunned all of us in attendance.
He said, “You can do an Iron Man. You just have to persevere and choose to, on that day, spend a lot time in agony.” Wow! Success is attainable but it comes with a price. I have learned many people wants the perks of leadership – the compensation, the notoriety, the material trappings, etc… But few are willing to pay the price of leadership. And one of the primary prices which must be paid is hard work. Booker T. Washington once said, “Nothing ever comes to one, that is worth having, except as a result of hard work.” In fact, the only place success comes before (hard) work is in the dictionary.
The Bible has much to say about hard work. Allow me to give you just a few verses from the Book of Proverbs along with some key leadership lessons it provides.
If you do not work hard, you will not enjoy financial success. In fact, laziness will provide a clear path to poverty. Read the verse found in chapter 6:10-11, “A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to sleep – So shall your poverty come on you like a prowler.” Financial guru Dave Ramsey who teaches biblical financial principles said, “My children were taught at an early age how money works and that it comes from hard work. They’ve been on a commission – not an allowance – since they were little. They learned that if they worked around the house, they got paid. If they didn’t work, they didn’t get paid.”
Are you looking for more meaning in your life and work? Well, hard work brings leaders understanding and a sense of satisfaction. Chapter 12:11 says, “He who tills his land will be satisfied with bread. But he who follows frivolity is devoid of understanding.” The Bible says not working hard is frivolous. In other words, there is no serious purpose to your actions. Hard work provides direction and intent. Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher summed it up when she said, “What is success? I think it is a mixture of having a flair for the thing that you are doing; knowing that it is not enough, that you have got to have hard work and a certain sense of purpose.”
It may sound unusual to write this but one of the many benefits to hard work is it improves your quality of life. Chapter 13:4 teaches us, “The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing: But the soul of the diligent shall be made rich.” What do you desire today? Is it financial gain? Loving relationships? Physical, mental and emotional health? A great church, business, or non-profit? Do you want to be able to give away great amounts of your time and resources to meet the needs of those less fortunate? Whatever it is you want to be rich in, it cannot be done apart from some hard work.
Many times people wonder why other people “get all the breaks.” They wonder why someone else is in charge and not them. Many times there is a very simple answer. Chapter 12:24 says, “The hand of the diligent will rule, But the lazy man will be put to forced labor.” Successful leaders, those who wind up in key positions of influence, do not talk about working hard. They actually do it. The writer of Proverbs goes on to teach us in chapter 14:23, “In labor there is profit, But idle chatter leads only to poverty.”
These verses are sobering. The contrast between hard work and laziness is not a popular topic in today’s politically correct and entitlement culture. But if you want to get the most out of your leadership, you need to know that success smells a lot like sweat. Thomas Edison once said, “There is no substitute for hard work.” This is a lesson successful leaders know all too well.
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