How Diligent Are You?


Nazi bombs were dropping. People were dying. The future of the British Empire was in jeopardy. Winston Churchill knew that this was no time to be pawing the ground. The British Prime Minister was diligent. Leaders have to be! In this post I share three ways to assess your leadership diligence.

Beginning August 26, 1940 and for the next twelve days six hundred German bombers targeted the cities and airfields of England. Winston Churchill was a whirlwind of activity in an effort to repel the attacks. "But he was aware of how little any one man could do to affect the battle in the skies." [1] He said:

"Each night I try myself by Court Martial to see if I have done anything effective during the day. I don't mean just pawing the ground, anyone can go through the motions, but something really effective."[2]

Churchill's words stuck a cord. Hitler's attacks were relentless. British citizens and soldiers were dying. The future of the British Empire was in jeopardy. This was no time to be "pawing the ground."

While few leaders hold the reins in such perilous moments, all leaders have a responsibility before God and before the people they lead to give their best every day!

As I think of Churchill I think of another leader who would never be caught "pawing the ground." The apostle Paul was diligence personified. In his relationship with the church of Corinth we see his diligence exhibited. We also discover three questions we can ask to "try ourselves" today:

1. Am I surrendering my rights?

As an apostle and preacher, Paul had a right to receive a paycheck for his efforts (1 Corinthians 9:1-14). Despite that "right" he felt the time in which he lived and the people among whom he ministered necessitated surrendering that right.

If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more? Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ. Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings? In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel. But I have made no use of any of these rights.  1 Corinthians 9:11-15 ESV

Leaders surrender rights.  John Maxwell says, "The leader must give up to go up."[3] Churchill understood this. So did Paul. Leaders surrender the right to sleep, "taking credit," complaining, and a host of other "rights."

Is there a right you are clinging to today that you need to release?

2. Am I leading with zeal?

Reading Martin Gilbert's account of the activities of Winston Church during WWII, leaves one with the distinct impression that "pawing the ground" was the last thing the Prime Minister would be doing. He was zealous in his efforts to lead his nation to victory. Paul displayed that same kind of fervor:

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

One should never think Churchill and Paul are leadership aberrations, that such tenacity is beyond the "everyday leader." It is not. God calls all of his leaders to lead with zeal.

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal. Romans 12:6-8 ESV

One way to lead zealously is to constantly assess your work. If you want some help, click here for 10 Assessment Questions Every Leader Should Ask.

3. Am I adopting a servant spirit?

Let me return to Paul's interaction with the Corinthians. Paul was passionate about living and sharing the gospel. There was no way that he, as a leader for God, was going to let anything interfere with that effort.  He writes:

For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. 1 Corinthians 9:19 ESV

Servants do what they are asked and they do what it takes to get the job done. Think through your list of activities today. What one thing could you do today to use your position to better serve others?

If you are leading, you are working? The question is "How diligently are you working?" This is no time to be pawing the ground!


[1] Martin Gilbert, Churchill: A Life, page 674. [2] Gilbert, Churchill: A Life, page 674. [3] John Maxwell, The 21 Irrefutable Laws Of Leadership (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2007), page 219.