Virtues of Hard Work and Determination

If someone were to ask you what is the primary factor for achieving success, what would be your answer? 

That was a question Kent Humphreys, a consultant to corporate executives, wondered about. Everyone in the business and professional world desires to attain success, but for many individuals, success seems just beyond their reach. So what are the key ingredients for success they might be lacking?

In his book, Letters to Workplace Leaders, Humphreys cites a survey in which people were asked, “Of the successful people that you have met, which of the following is the main reason for their success?” Two answers were selected far above all of the others: hard work and determination. 

Hard work was the most common answer, chosen by 40 percent of the people surveyed. But determination was a close second, cited by 38 percent of those responding to the question. It was interesting that these far surpassed other possible success factors, such as knowledge, luck or good fortune, and influential contacts.

If he had been included in this study, noted American inventor Thomas Edison most likely would have agreed. He once offered this intriguing observation that relates to success: “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” 

We live in an age when it seems many people do not want to exert the necessary effort – hard work and determination – to succeed, and then wonder why others manage to excel while they do not. They regard themselves as “entitled,” rather than being responsible for earning those things they desire: status, career advancement, influence, monetary and material rewards. 

Recognizing the importance of hard work and determination, however, is not new. In fact, the Bible – written thousands of years ago – speaks extensively about both. In the Old Testament’s book of Proverbs, for example, we find numerous statements about the virtues and benefits of hard work and determined effort:

“He who works his land will have abundant food, but he who chases fantasies lacks judgment” (Proverbs 12:11)

“Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in slave labor” (Proverbs 12:24).

“The laborer’s appetite works for him; his hunger drives him on” (Proverbs 16:26).

“The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty” (Proverbs 21:5). 

This link between hard work and determination is also addressed in the New Testament. The apostle James understood this when he wrote, “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him”  (James 1:12). 

Perseverance blends hard work and determination into a winning formula. If you find yourself facing a trial in your workplace, a formidable challenge, remember there is no substitute for hard work and determination. 

Copyright 2012, Integrity Resource Center, Inc. Adapted with permission from “Integrity Moments with Rick Boxx,” a commentary on issues of integrity in the workplace from a Christian perspective. To learn more about Integrity Resource Center or to sign up for Rick’s daily Integrity Moments, visit www.integrityresource.org. His book, How to Prosper in Business Without Sacrificing Integrity, gives a biblical approach for doing business with integrity. 

Reflection/Discussion Questions

1.  Think of some successful people that you know personally. To what would you attribute their success?

2.  Can you think of examples of individuals or even teams, whether in the business and professional world or elsewhere, that have managed to achieve true successes without hard work and determination? 

3.  In your opinion, does it seem some individuals are almost “allergic” to hard work, choosing instead to adopt an attitude that they are entitled to experience success and all that comes with it – without exerting the necessary effort? Explain your answer.

4.  The passage from the book of James states a person that perseveres through trials is blessed, and will receive “the crown of life” from God. What does this mean to you?

NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages:

Proverbs 10:4, 13:4, 14:23, 18:9, 20:4; Luke 14:28-30, Romans 5:3-5; James 1:2-4


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