Do the work.
That’s my thesis statement for this, so I’m just going to start out saying it. Whatever your work is, in whatever part of your life, that’s how you find success: in doing the work.
I was thinking about this because of something my best friend, Stephanie, came across in an instructional video about running ads for successful book marketing. The instructor said, “Success isn’t random.” That resonated with Stephanie.
It resonates with me, too, and goes right along with some other things I’ve been thinking. Or rather, with other places in life where the same rule applies. It’s something my husband and I teach in our marketing classes…and it’s also something we talk about in our spiritual lives.
We always have to do the work. Always. Day in and day out. In season and out of season. Whether we feel like it or not. Whether we see the results we want or not.
The truth is easiest to see in business examples, so I’m going to start there. We talk a lot about best practices, especially for creative endeavors, where there isn’t a right and a wrong, per se. There are just good things to do that are always good to do. We call those best practices. It’s always good for an author to have a website. It’s always good for them to have a newsletter they send out regularly. It’s always good to be sharing things that will enrich their readers, not just trying to sell a book. It’s always good to be present where they are, both in the physical world and online.
But those are “just” best practices. Following all of that doesn’t guarantee you’ll have a million-copy bestseller on your hands. Doing it all faithfully won’t mean that a book won’t flop now and then, either. What it does guarantee is steady response to steady action. Things will build. They will grow. And as long as you’re doing the work, you’re making that lightning-strike more likely. You’re raising a lightning rod, let’s say, and saying, “Okay, I’m ready! Strike here!”
Often it won’t. Sometimes it will. Either way, you’re doing the work, and results will come.
But you know when it won’t? When you’re doing nothing. Oh, once in a while a breakout bestseller will strike when the author has done little to get it out there…but even then, work was done. They wrote a book. I 100% guarantee you that you’ll never have a successful book if you don’t do that FIRST work of writing and editing and publishing it.
But the same is true of ALL parts of our life.
Want to raise a great family? Obviously first you need the people…but then you have to do the work. Day in and day out. When you’re exhausted. When you’re sick. When you don’t feel like it. I so well remember those days when my kids were little, when I just wanted a break for an hour or a day or (dare I dream it?) a weekend once in a while. I rarely got it. And when I did, it didn’t really do any miracles. But you know what helped? Realizing that I was doing the work. I was building memories for my kids. I was teaching them valuable lessons about life and God and family and themselves. Was I perfect? Ha! Far from it. Would I change things if I could? Absolutely.
But I was there. I did the work. I’m still doing the work.
Marriage. Same thing. Want a successful marriage? Do the work. Be there, day in and day out. Listen, in season and out of season. Make the decision to love them again every morning, every noon, every night. Fix what’s broken. Don’t be lazy. Talk about things that matter. Does that guarantee success 100% of the time? No. Sometimes only one spouse does the work and the other decides to pursue something contradictory. Sometimes people will claim to be perfectly happy without any effort at all. But 98% of the time, healthy relationships come from those same “best practices.” Show up. Be where they are. Communicate. Provide what they need at the deepest heart level.
And then…faith. Maybe we know this is true of faith because it’s true of everything else in life…or maybe it’s true for everything else in life because it’s true in faith. Regardless, you can see where I’m going.
We’re never going to be miracle workers if we’re not praying every day for others’ healing. We’re never going to move mountains if we don’t regularly command them to be tossed into the sea. We’re never going to shake off (metaphorical even) serpents if we don’t do risky things that God asks us to do. We’re never going to win souls for Him if we don’t make it apparent every minute, in deed and in word, that we are His…and if we don’t go where they are. We’re never going to understand Him better if we don’t talk to Him, listen to Him, follow His example, be where He is.
The workers are few. That’s what Jesus said about the harvest. It was true in His day, and it’s still true in ours. Because being lazy is easier. Letting someone else do the work. Sitting back and admiring those fields or eating what people bring you. Most of us would live our lives perfectly content to let the status quo keep on being the status quo.
But that’s not the kind of faith that Jesus died for. He SHOOK THE WORLD with His teaching. Snapped people to attention. Challenged every single preconceived notion and assumption. He may have said His burden is light–but He also told us to pick it up and carry it every…single…day.
Day in and day out. In season and out of season.
Do the work. Because only when you do will you see the fruit of your labors.