•   It requires perseverance. You cannot quit even when you feel like it.

     •   It requires a firm hand rather than a slack hand.

There’s another tremendous verse from Proverbs that ties in with this. Proverbs 10:4 says, “He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich.”

The slack hand is a lazy, lax hand. There is a picture drawn in this verse of two kinds of workers: One is slack and lazy, and the other is diligent and hard-working.

Have you ever watched someone who worked with a slack hand and just wouldn’t diligently tackle the job and get it done? Perhaps you’ve seen your own children approach their schoolwork with a slack hand! There’s hardly anything more frustrating than watching someone toy around with their work instead of just buckling down and getting it done.

Proverbs 10:4 is telling us that someone who works with that kind of slack hand ends up poor, while the one who works diligently will be rich.

The interesting thing to me about this verse is the word “diligent.” Six times in the Bible, the Hebrew word used here is translated “gold.” It occurs in Proverbs 8:19 where it says, “My fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold; and my revenue than choice silver.”

Five times the word is translated “diligent,” and twice it’s translated “decision.” It’s as if we’re being told that the hand of the diligent person is a decisive, golden hand that makes them rich.

Now realize this: It is far more important to apply the principles of a diligent hand as a parent than it is to apply them as a worker on the job.

What is a slack hand that produces poor character in children? It is letting children get by with something when they should not get by. It’s failing to have a firm grip on what is going on in your child’s life.

Let me illustrate what I’m talking about. A child approaches her father and asks, “Dad, can I spend the night at Cheryl’s house?”

A dad with a slack hand might say, “Sure, I don’t care. Spend the night.” He might go a little further than that and say, “When are you leaving? When will you be back? Have a good time.”

However, a diligent dad won’t stop there. There are several approaches he might take. He may have a rule that his children don’t participate in sleepovers at all. If he does, every other family should respect that rule and not criticize it.

If the diligent dad does allow his children to spend the night at a friend’s house, he may have some rules that he makes sure are in place. For example, he may have a rule that his children can only go if there will not be anyone of the opposite gender present anywhere near their age.

That was the rule we had for our girls, and our only wish is that we had developed that rule before any of them had ever been born. By the way, that rule is best not just for sleepovers, but for children going to someone’s house at any time without Dad and Mom going with them. Even if the entire family visits another family, the diligent father will probably wisely look at his children and say, “Now boys, you don’t go in any girls’ bedrooms here, and girls, you don’t go in any boy’s bedrooms here. You don’t close doors on any room but the bathroom, and you go in there by yourself.”

The diligent father will want to know more about the situation, and may lovingly ask his daughter:

     •   When are you leaving?

     •   How do you plan to get there?