January 3, 2012
Reprieve. No major events to try me. The day proceeded like any other normal day in our lives. The children played joyfully together after completing their morning chores and Mommy was able to get a little extra tidying up done. Now on to the main event – the weekly big job.
It is my son’s responsibility to mop the floors. Since we don’t use a mop he has scrub on his hands and knees. Mommy spent a few months mopping with him so that he knew how to do it before I set him loose on his own. Normally we don’t have a problem but today his focus was somewhere else (probably on the bright sunshine pouring in the windows). His sister was busy wiping down the counters and tables with Clorox wipes and doing a fabulous job for a three year old (I think we have a budding Type-A in our midst). But brother was half-heartedly doing his share and leaving damp, serpentine wet marks on portions of the floor. When one of the children thinks they are done with their duty they come to Mommy and report in. Today my son reported in 5 minutes after he started. Now it takes me at least 10 minutes to do the job so I knew something was awry. Upon inspecting his work it was readily apparent he put little effort into completing his task. I could have scolded and sent him back for another go but the words Teachable Moment rang out in my head. I grabbed a rag and together we redid the floor. I talked him through the process again, showing him how to complete the chore in the least amount of time. Then we had a talk about diligence.
As defined by Webster’s 1828 Dictionary:
DILIGENCE, n. [L., to love earnestly; to choose.]
1. Steady application in business of any kind; constant effort to accomplish what is undertaken; exertion of body or mind without unnecessary delay or sloth; due attention; industry; assiduity.
Diligence is the philosophers stone that turns everything to gold.
Brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure. 2 Peter 1.
2. Care; heed; heedfulness.
Keep thy heart with all diligence. Proverbs 4.
I explained that working diligently saves time. I reminded him that it took us 30 minutes to do a job that should only take 15 minutes tops. I asked him what he could have been doing with those extra 15 minutes and sent him off to think.
What I learned is that diligence is not a once and done learning experience. Left on their own my children revert back to slothful, unfocused behavior. So I will take them by the hand so to speak to reinforce the training we already undertook. Practice, Practice, Practice. We will eventually be perfect.
"Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men." - Proverbs 22:29