Those who work hard and those who plan to work hard keep accurate records of where they are investing their energies. They do not just go on hoping that all would be alright.
A serious turn in my prayer life came when I decided to keep a record of how much time I was spending in prayer. Before that time I used to pray and truly believed that I was a man of prayer. I decided to record the exact time during which I prayed each time, recording the exact time at which I started praying and at which I stopped praying. I did this for a week which was normal and was shocked when I made the totals for each day and for the entire week. I had prayed for one-third of the amount of time I thought I was praying. I was shocked. What had happened?
I thought I was praying much whereas I was not. My thoughts or imaginations were very far removed from reality. I was self-deceived. These facts forced me to repent, carry out restitution and begin to make progress in prayer. I then decided that I would keep a record of how I was using my time each day. My record shows what the time was used for from the moment I woke up to the moment I went to bed each night. A glance at the way I am spending my time easily shows what the goal or the priorities of my life are. I can no longer be deceived about whether or not I am putting time into my goal. Figures are revealing.
DO NOT BE SELF-DECEIVED
You too may be as self-deceived as I was. The only way out is to keep an honest record of how your time is being used. It will shock you but it will enable you to face facts, repent and change. It will require discipline, but discipline is an integral part of hard work.
Because you will be recording exactly how you are spending your time and not how you think you are spending it, you will not put your time into things that you will not be proud of. You will, for example, love to see on record that you spent many hours in prayer, a few hours in sleeping, eating and the like. Because that is what you would want to be recorded, you will labour to bring it to pass so that your record may be true. In this way, you have another incentive to work hard.
God ordained accountability. The Bible says,
“For we must all appear at the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive good or evil according to what he has done in the body.” (II Corinthians 5:10).
The Lord told the parable of the talents in which the master on return, settled accounts with them. (Matthew 25:14-30). We shall ultimately give account to the Lord of the way in which we spent each
ounce of energy
He gave us from birth until we meet Him. This serves as a stimulus to hard work now. However, no one needs to wait until then to learn and to practise the art of being accountable. It may be too late then. The wise person learns and practises accountability now in order not to be deceived. He also practises accountability so that he may be forced to press on and be his best.
So, the wise person puts himself under someone to whom he is accountable. All who reject this will not make all the progress that they could make. Those who are already doing very well without being accountable to someone on earth could certainly do better if they placed themselves under someone to whom they were accountable. Those who are doing averagely or poorly could each do better if they were accountable to someone.
Why is that so? I believe that God has put into each human being a desire to want to be approved. He Himself will judge us to approve or to disapprove us. Because of this desire to be approved that God has put into us when a person is accountable to someone, he will seek to be approved by the person to whom he is accountable. He will not want to be disapproved of. He will consequently do all he can to be approved. As far as hard work is concerned, the one seeking to be approved will :
work harder and harder,
and work hardest, in order to continue to be approved.
The other side of the matter is that the one to whom we are accountable will encourage us when we need encouragement and help us to see things clearly if things have become blurred because we have lost the vision.
CHOICE OF A PERSON TO WHOM TO BE ACCOUNTABLE
In order that the art of accountability may make sense and help you to work hard, the person to whom you decide to be accountable should normally have all or most of the following qualifications:
He should know the Lord Jesus as his Lord and Saviour.
He should be radically committed to the Lord Jesus.
He should be a person who has a long-standing history of working hard.
He should be thoroughly honest and thus, able to call a spade a spade.
He should love you deeply.
He should not fear you, that is; he should be able to tell you the truth readily.
He should hold you in high esteem.
He should believe that you are where God wants you to be.
He should have the authority to rebuke you.
He should have the capacity to see hidden flaws.
He should have the ability to inspire you and congratulate you.
He should have the power to lift you up when you are discouraged and help you to move on.
He should be available for personal contact, preferably once a month.
He should be a person you do not want to fail or let down or hurt.
It could be that you do not find someone with many of these characteristics. You can still be accountable. You should then choose someone who is where you are and you should decide to be mutually accountable to each other. That failing, do not give up. Choose someone who is below you and regularly show him what you set out to do and what you have actually done.
What must you do with the person to whom you are accountable? We make the following suggestions:
You should know that it is for your good that he decides to have you accountable to him.
You should treat him with high respect and encourage him from time to time by some token of gratitude or the other.
You should discuss what you are investing yourself into with him.
You should let him have a copy of your goals and the time limits for accomplishing each one of them.
You should be totally honest with him so that he knows the facts and not imaginations.
You should be prepared to receive a rebuke if that is what you deserve.
You should seek him and not wait for him to look for you. Remember, it is the patient who seeks the physician.
You should prepare things and be orderly when you go to see him.
You should not waste his time.
You should not bring in things that are outside the evaluation of your progress.
You should show him the details of how you have used each day that month.
You should spell out how much time was invested into your goal.
You should spell out how much work was done.
You should spell out how much time was wasted.
You should tell him your evaluation of the way you worked: if it was
not hard enough,
You should tell him if you think you are able on your own to improve your performance without any help from him.
You should spell out to what extent you think you can improve on your performance.
You should tell him where you think your problem lies.
You should be quiet and let him think through.
You should listen as he speaks.
You should ask questions.
You should agree together on the goal to be accomplished before the next appointment.
You should repent to God and to him for any faults or failures that resulted from laziness.
You should thank him for correcting you.
You should pray together before you leave.
You should go away determined to do better by working harder, regardless of whether you were praised or rebuked.
Praise the Lord!