The Danger of Nine-Out-Of-Ten Thinking

“The first and best victory is to conquer self.” That’s according to the Greek philosopher Plato. He was right, of course! Unfortunately, however, far too many people are in a serious losing streak when it comes to self-mastery.

Read: Proverbs 6:6

“You lazy fool, look at an ant. Watch it closely; let it teach you a thing or two. Nobody has to tell it what to do.”

But that’s not you, right?  Since you are reading this, chances are you are doing it for personal improvement, self-discipline and spiritual growth.  You have taken the time and made the effort to read and reflect on how you might better align your character with God’s design for your life.  That’s not to say you are perfect, but in nine out of ten areas, you’re doing pretty well, if you don’t say so yourself.

But hold on, my friend.  It’s your inattention to that tenth area that very well may be the difference between God’s abundance or wasted potential in your life, between living a life of great faith and being an also-ran in the race of life, between hearing “well done, faithful one” and “depart from me, I never knew you” on that day you stand before the Almighty.

It’s that nine-out-of-ten mentality that has been the undoing of so many. It is what we might call, “selective sluggardliness”. To neglect even the little, hidden, seemingly inconsequential areas of undeveloped and unredeemed moral fiber is to commit malpractice in life’s most important work—the development of our character.

That’s why Solomon says in Proverbs 6:6 (The Message), “You lazy fool, look at an ant. Watch it closely; let it teach you a thing or two. Nobody has to tell it what to do.” What does the ant teach us?  First, it needs no outside motivation—it just follows its God-given, built in, intrinsic motivation to do what needs to be done. Second, the ant just instinctively knows what to do—and so do you. Third, like Nike, the ant just does it!

Okay, you’re doing great in nine out of ten areas.  Pat yourself on the back and have a party.  And once you’re done, tackle that tenth area.  Don’t stop until you master it. Believe me, you won’t regret it.

“Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody else expects of you. Never excuse yourself. Never pity yourself. Be a hard master to yourself-and be lenient to everybody else.”
~Henry Ward Beecher

Your Assignment, Should You Choose To Accept It:

Talk to a trusted friend about this nine-out of-ten idea and ask him or her if they see an area of neglect in your life.  Then allow them to hold you accountable for growth in that area.

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2 thoughts on “The Danger of Nine-Out-Of-Ten Thinking

  1. I agree, in part, with the quote by Henry Ward Beecher. I would argue that if we hold ourselves to high standards, we should demand others do so as well and not practice leniency for leniency's sake.