A Word of Encouragement from Elizabeth Handford
Did your mother warn you, “If it’s worth doing, do it well?” Then blame the fourth Earl of Chesterfield. He’s the man who said it first, trying to teach his son “the art of becoming a man of the world and a gentleman.”
It’s true: God has given us this “now,” this moment of life. It’s a limited commodity. How foolish it would be to fritter it away carelessly. King Solomon said, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).
But the things we have to do again and again are not the sole reason God put us here on His earth. They are necessities that enable us to do the important things God wants us to do. A man must work conscientiously every day to earn a living, but even at a routine job he can be a strong encouragement to his fellow-workers. A new mother will have a load of laundry she’ll have to wash again tomorrow. But while she is doing it cheerfully, she can still be creating a home that will draw her children to Jesus.
But “doing it well” does not mean doing it slowly. Studies have shown, for example, that people who read fast retain more of what they read than those who read slowly.
In the biography, “Cheaper by the Dozen,” the mother of that dozen children was Lillian Gilbreth. She earned three Ph.D’s in engineering and psychology. She said, “I sought to provide women with shorter, simpler, and easier ways of doing housework to enable them to seek paid employment outside the home.” She invented the foot pedal trash can and the shelves on the inside of refrigerator doors. She determined the best height for kitchen counters. She made many other innovations you likely use. Looking for the “shorter, simpler, and easier ways of doing housework” can help you do any kind of job well and quickly.
But sometimes, when God has burdened me with a serious task, I have felt totally inadequate. I felt I didn’t have the skills, the wisdom, even the time, to do it like it ought to be done. But it had to be done, so I did it the best I could. That’s when I’m comforted by G. K. Chesterton’s cheerful statement, “Sometimes anything worth doing is worth doing badly.” God can use us in spite of our weaknesses, or — might it be?— because of our weaknesses?
Perhaps the secret is found in Colossians 3:17:
And whatever you do in word or deed,
do all in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through Him.
Thank God that He can use us vulnerable, inadequate human beings for His good purposes. No matter what I do each day, routine and boring or challenging and rewarding, I can do it in His name, and for His sake. And I won’t always know how successful it will turn out to be. I can leave that in God’s loving hands.