Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Hard Drudgery

"Hard Drudgery," from the chapter “Raising the Bar,” in the book Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations, by Alex and Brett Harris.

The authors inroduce the phrase “hard drudgery” in an illustration about Teddy Roosevelt. He “did more than survive. In a way that few men have matched, he thrived” (p.104).

Teddy’s father introduced him to routines of “hard drudgery,” daily disciplines that pushed him and stretched him. I think that these exercises probably provided benefit in at least a couple of ways.

On the one hand, they helped him overcome some built-in weaknesses with which he was born. If I have a weakness, I need to work hard to overcome it. Also, the routines of “hard drudgery” accustomed Teddy to discomfort. It is my addiction to the comfortable that builds up a resistance toward stretching and strengthening.

The authors make this statement on p. 103: “A commitment to growth kills complacency.” So now we have two devastating “c” words: comfort and complacency.

When I perfect the practices of comfort and complacency, I show myself to be firmly committed to the status quo. I’m resistant to change, and I am setting myself against growth.

The authors introduce yet another pentrating thought early in the chapter – claiming that to “do your best” is usually an excuse. If we claim to have done our best, then we exempt ourselves from doing more. Steps that go above and beyond will be precluded. What, exactly, is “my best?”

The authors don’t press doctrine at this point, but I feel that I must. To think that Jesus did “his best” at every step and turn throughout his earthly life is absolutely astonishing. He lived perfectly. He never misused an opportunity. He never cut a corner. He always fulfilled the will of the Father on every level, whether externally in behavior, or internally in motivation. He did the little things, the acts of “hard drudgery.” He never opted for the comfortable or the complacent. He always did his best. I’m amazed.

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