Sarah is no longer in the cookie business (note last post), but from those skills and others she learned at home and in school, Sarah was able to launch her own web design company while she was still in college. It helped to support her for a number of years, and then she was hired by a large advertising agency. No one knew it at the time that her cookie business would be a building block to her career. Her cookie business taught her what course work could not, and her schooling taught her what her small business could not. Like a teeter-totter, she needed weight on both ends: experience and education.
Of course, there were many other influences which helped to forge her character and competencies, but I have to limit the detail I place in these posts! In Sarah’s story, which is a true story, we see where the stream of her character has taken her. We have seen her exercise initiative and thoroughness.
It’s time I defined those words. According to our school’s character curriculum, initiative is “taking action when appropriate without waiting to be asked or directed.” The opposite of initiative is idleness and timidity. Jesus took the initiative to wash his disciples’ feet when that was not his responsibility, but he chose to humble himself and serve his men (John 13:1-17).
Thoroughness is “completing a job all the way.” What can you say to that? It says it all. The opposite is incompleteness and unfinished work. Unfinished. I think that all of us immediately feel some guilt, because we’ve all had good intentions and some gusto in starting something and then we have not followed through to the end. In contrast, Jesus is the most thorough example of thoroughness, for as Jesus said, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work” (John 4:34). He did. Therefore, on the cross He could say, “It is finished” (John 19:30).
Initiative involves desire. “I desire [delight] to do Your will, O my God; Your law is within my heart” (Psalm 40:8). Thoroughness requires determination and perseverance. “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).
I am excited about a desire I had many years ago that I am presently pursuing: another degree. I’ve had to keep this goal on hold because of family priorities and then health issues, but I’ve been going at it again since last summer. Yesterday I completed another course called Biblical Hermeneutics! Hermeneutics is the science and art of interpreting Scripture. My heart is joyful over the completion of another step toward this degree.
What value is there in having abilities if we don’t have the character to carry them along? Our character has nothing to do with our capacities, but everything to do with our competencies and accomplishments. People with average intelligence often travel further down the stream of life because they develop the stamina and qualities needed to row, navigate, and of course, build an engine.
Well, there’s some food for thought. Each of us may ask, what is God asking me to finish that I once started?
“I delight to do Your will, O Lord.”