In order to understand diligence, it is important to first know that it is a contrary virtue. It is the virtue to use to stave off the sin of Sloth. We all have areas where we are probably more prone to sloth in our lives and it seems like the biggest effort to be diligent instead. I know it is hard but this is one of the Seven Virtues so no one said it would be easy. Diligence is in its nature one of the more tedious of the virtues because it is built upon consistency. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines Diligence as “Persevering Application.” Dictionary.com gives a slightly easier-to-grasp definition: “constant and earnest effort to accomplish what is undertaken; persistent exertion of body or mind.”
I chose to write about this because I do not particularly struggle with it. This tactic is a departure from my other articles on the subject but I thought that perhaps an outside perspective may be helpful. I will admit I am not perfect in being diligent. However, my lack of “Persevering Application” tends to be in places where I am afraid. Sometimes the fear is of failing after working so hard. Other times it is of succeeding and moving into a place that is foreign to me. But in general, after fretting and obsessing about all of my emotions, I get the urge to do something about it and that is a blessing that I have internal motivation to act.
Diligence Can Be Hard For Some
For some, it is harder. I imagine that since sloth is one of the top sins, it is fairly common to experience it throughout your life. Perhaps I will have a time where I feel sloth creeping in. On a small scale, putting off writing or sending my résumé out has been placed on the back burner. But after a short time, my goals come back into perspective and I shape up.
Now, mind you, diligence is not just applicable to careers. If you are in a relationship or have a family you will see that being diligent in maintaining your relationships is of the utmost importance to their growth and your happiness. Friendships take diligence, especially those that are long distance as I have come to learn. It can be really hard work to consistently show affection to someone who is so far away which is probably the main reason long-distance romances are so hard. You need to consistently feed all of your relationships. And for those of you with children, I am sure you know better than I do that raising your children right takes diligence and great effort.
My husband and I have discussed when (or if) we want to start a family. And he brought to my attention that I tend to discuss it in very negative terms. Perhaps I have an unfortunate bias, but I believe my hesitation comes from knowing the amount of work children take and how diligent we will have to be in raising them with the morals we think will be best for them. It sounds exhausting.
The truth is every facet of our lives requires diligence and some areas are easier to exercise diligence than others. But if we are all trying to be better people and grow; if we are all aiming to build up our own character, and for some of us, trying to please God with our lives, I believe diligence is the key.
Diligence Heals Laziness
Sloth may not be your deadly sin but regardless of what it is, whether its wrath or gluttony or envy, all of those take a lot of hard work to get past and heal from. And although each have their own “Contrary Virtue” to help aiding in the avoidance of committing such sins, I believe that once you master diligence, conquering the others will be much easier.
As a last note, I want to leave you with some encouragement. Everyone reading this is struggling with something. The author is struggling with something. Some days are easier to work hard through than others. But get up every day, being intentionally diligent in as many ways as you can and you will soon feel the difference, even if you have to start being diligent on learning diligence.