The person who wants to accomplish his goal in the shortest possible time and as efficiently as possible, needs to be trained. Training enables the person to work hard.
Let me take a situation from working on a farm. When someone goes to work on a farm for the first time, he may cut grass in a limited area for six hours and get home with a lot of blisters that will make it impossible for him to return to work on the farm for a number of days until his blisters have healed. However, an experienced farmer may clear as much as ten times the area cleared by the inexperienced one in the same length of time and have no blisters. He will thus be able to go to the farm everyday.
Each one must learn to work hard. No one is born naturally hard-working. The personality has to be trained and disciplined to work hard. The best training is the one that is imparted gradually in the course of life.
The best thing is that a child ought to have been trained to work hard. The Bible says,
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6).
Hard-working parents will normally train their children to work hard, simply by providing hard-working models for the children. Personally, I never learned to work hard as a conscious process. I was blessed to have been born to a father and mother who worked hard.
However, whether or not a person learned to work hard in childhood, it does not ultimately matter. The person who is determined to accomplish his goal will teach himself how to work hard. If he is desperate enough to accomplish his goal, he will pay any price that is necessary. He will labour at removing any obstacles that stand on his way at any cost. This requires discipline. Training to work hard is more or less training in discipline.
Discipline is the purposeful putting of oneself under control in order to achieve a desired result. The one who is going to accomplish a great goal will put himself under discipline. What does this mean in practice? It means that for a person who is studying, when the work that has been set apart for the day has not been accomplished and there is a feeling of sleepiness, he will not yield to sleep. Rather, he will walk round the room, go outside for a walk or a run or do any other thing to drive away sleep. When that has been done, he will return to work and keep at it until the work is accomplished. He has thereby begun to train his body to say “No” to sleep. If he continues that way, he can reduce his sleeping time from eight hours a night to seven hours a night and then to six hours a night and then to five hours a night and then to four hours a night. He will correspondingly be increasing his working time from say twelve hours a day to thirteen hours a day, to fourteen hours a day, to fifteen hours a day, to sixteen hours a day.
We say from hard-earned experience, that the body is not an enemy but a servant to be trained. The body can be trained to need eight hours of sleep a night in order to function efficiently or to function efficiently on four hours or even two hours of sleep a night. I once read of a Head of State of a certain country who was called a “workaholic.” This man had disciplined himself to functioning efficiently on two hours of sleep per night and he had lived that way for all the five years since he became president.
Maybe the following story will communicate to you what we are labouring to say.
“God disciplines us for good, that we may share His holiness.” (Hebrews 12:10).
When they are received aright, the disciplines of life serve to produce in us the likeness of Christ. I saw this exhibited to a remarkable degree in the life of one of God’s choicest hidden saints. My visit to the home of Miss H.R.Higgen in Melbourne will not soon be forgotten.
She had neither arms nor legs, for these had been progressively amputated to arrest a bone disease. She named her cottage ‘Gladwish’, and for forty-three years never left her room. When I entered, it was not to see a depressed invalid, but a radiant christian. Instead of bemoaning the hardness of her lot, she gave herself to prayer and spiritual ministry.
To the end of the stump of one arm, a fountain pen was fastened, while on the other stump there was a rubber attachment. With these, she managed to manipulate a stand and letter rack by her bedside. When the calamity overtook her, instead of rebelling against God, she took it from Him as a discipline intended to accelerate the formation of Christ in her.
She mastered the difficult art of writing and developed an almost copper-plate style. Then began a correspondence that circled the globe. People from all over the world visited that little room, and no one left without being impressed by the triumph of Christ which she demonstrated.
Her help showed me letters from people the world around whom she had led to Christ, either in that little room or through her correspondence. Literally, hundreds were brought to Christ through her radiant testimony. The circumstances which might well have crushed and embittered her, only served to sweeten and make her more like her Master. She exemplified Catherine Booth Clibborn’s hymn:
Turn your trouble into treasure,
Turn your sorrow into song,
Then the world will know the measure
In which you to Christ belong.
(Osward Smith in “This I remember”)
The apostle Paul wrote,
“Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do this to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Well, I do not run aimlessly, I do not box as one beating the air; but I pommel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” (I Corinthians 9:25-27).
We repeat that the body is a servant that is wild and needs to be tamed to serve properly. Take the area of food. It is quite interesting to know that eating much food and working hard at praying are mutually exclusive. The person who has decided to work hard in the school of prayer will discipline himself to eat only the minimum amount of food that will allow him to function properly. We know that there are people who eat three or four times the quantity of food that other people of the same height eat. It is not that some bodies need more food than others, but that some bodies have been trained to need more food than others.
In the training to work hard, no one can run away from enduring. The one who grows in discipline also grows in endurance. There will be many calls to give up, but the one who endures keeps going. There will be many obstacles, but the one who has trained himself to overcome, keeps pressing on and keeps forcing one obstacle after the other to give way. He is determined that no obstacle will keep him away from accomplishing the goal before him. When faced with an obstacle, he does not ask, “Will this be removed ?” Instead he asks, “Which is the quickest way to remove this obstacle?” To him, the obstacle must be removed at any cost. The only question is how it should be removed. If it takes ten days to remove the obstacle, he will labour for ten days. If it requires ten weeks, he will labour for ten weeks. One thing is sure; the obstacle must be removed and he labours at it until it is removed.
The one who wants to work hard will also train himself to think correctly. He knows the power of thoughts. He will divorce himself permanently from any thoughts that suggest that there is pleasure in being at ease and being idle. He will shut himself away from thoughts that suggest rest while the work is not completed and some energy is left. He will fill himself with the thoughts of the God who works hard and the reward that He has reserved for them who work hard. The Bible says,
“It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops.” (Timothy 2:6). “If we endure we shall also reign with him.” (Timothy 2:12).
So the person who wants to really work hard will discipline all of his body.