Posted by: S. L. Doss | May 28, 2015

Principles to Live By #9


You know, it’s easy to give something your very best when you enjoy what you’re doing. Say you enjoy baseball. You will play your heart out and try to hit a homerun at every game. You study the sport, you practice, you put effort into the game so you can succeed. You want to be the best player on the team, and it shows. Or, maybe you love to build models. You pay meticulous attention to every detail, getting the glue just right on each seam, lining up every piece just so, so that no one can see any flaws in the final masterpiece. You want to spend time doing that activity, finding pleasure in the accomplishment, and it shows.

It’s harder though, when you have an activity you don’t enjoy…when the “do” is more of a job than a hobby. An example in my life is cleaning house – you know, dusting, vacuuming, sweeping, mopping, cleaning toilets, etc. I would rather have my fingernails pulled off with pliers than clean house. Ok, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration. I really don’t enjoy cleaning, though, and find myself having to get mad at the world to finish the job. Most of the time, I clean as fast as I can, and only do what absolutely must be done to look clean. If you look behind the furniture, though, you’ll see dust bunnies the size of cats, and the laundry may be washed and dried, but not folded and put away, but sitting in a pile on the floor in the bedroom. If someone came over unexpectedly, I’d be scrambling to shove piles of papers in the closet and closing my bedroom door to hide any untidiness.

Not giving my best in this way means my family suffers. Oh, we’re not living in filth; the dishes are washed each day, and we don’t have trash piled up all over the house, but the dust aggravates allergies and wrinkled clothes means we don’t always look our best.

Do it with your whole heart.

What about those times when we are doing something that for the most part we enjoy, and usually do well, but just don’t feel like putting forth an effort sometimes? Like work…I enjoy my job most of the time, but some days I just don’t want to get tasks done. I may be feeling bad. Or I might have an extreme case of Spring fever. Or I just don’t care to do more than the minimum required today. How does that reflect upon me? I may not score as high on my performance review, and that rating becomes a permanent part of my record. I may not get a project done as timely as my boss would like, putting her behind and aggravating her. I may not receive the maximum wage increase possible because I had too many “slumps.”

Play time with my son is another area where I find myself not always “doing with my whole heart.” I love my boy, and we have great times together. Sometimes, though, I’m tired from work and would rather veg on the couch. So, I heave myself up, drag into his room and plop on the floor. “What are we going to play?” I ask. “Let’s play (fill in the blank)!” he responds with excitement. “Aww, I’d rather play something easy, since I’m tired.” His shoulders slump, and his voice drops, “Ok.” So, yes, we play. But my attention is split between him and the comfortable couch, or the million and a half things I need to do (can anyone say “clean house?”). My son is unhappy. I’m unhappy. I feel like a rotten mom. He doesn’t get the love and attention he desires. We’re both miserable.

If I had found a way, however, to give my all regardless how I felt, I’d be a more productive and valuable member of my team at work, and my relationship with my son would be stronger. I’d feel better about myself because I wouldn’t feel guilty for those slumps, those lackadaisical days, and others would be more pleased with me.

I think a half-hearted effort is worse than not putting forth an effort at all. When I do well sometimes, there is an expectation that I will always do so. I then cause greater disappointment when I slack, because there’s a greater expectation involved. If I don’t try at all, there might be some aggravation or disappointment, but hearts aren’t broken. The Bible talk about being either hot or cold, because lukewarm is unacceptable in regards to a relationship with God. But that can also apply to what we do with, for and to others, as well. So, I will give my very best effort to doing my very best in everything I do.

“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might;” – Ecclesiastes 9:10a



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