The title of Eugene Peterson’s 1980 classic offers my favorite definition of discipleship – A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. And the subtitle of the book sums up one of the primary challenges to discipleship – we live in an instant society.
Because we expect instantaneous results sometimes we struggle to maintain the long obedience required for success. We become impatient when we don’t realize immediate success and in response we give up too quick or change course midstream. The truth is consistency is the difference between failure and success. The wisdom of Proverbs understood that:
Steady plodding brings prosperity; hasty speculation brings poverty.
Proverbs 21: 5
Consistency is often the difference between failure and success. According to author Eric Holtzclaw here are some of the reasons why:
1. Consistency allows for measurement.
Until you have tried something new for a period of time and in a consistent manner, you can't decide if it works or not. How do you measure effectiveness if what you are measuring isn't performed consistently?
2. Consistency creates accountability.
When we are consistent we can clearly communicate expectations and then hold one other accountable for the results.
3. Consistency establishes your reputation.
Growth requires a track record of success. You can't establish a track record if you are constantly shifting gears or trying new tactics. Many efforts fail before they get to the finish line, but not because the tactic was flawed or goals weren't clear. The problem is often that the team simply didn't stay the course to achieve the objective.
4. Consistency makes you relevant.
An instant society is filled with fads that come and go (consider the Harlem Shake). Consistency establishes weight that makes the organization relevant.
5. Consistency maintains your message.
Communication and marketing experts agree that in order to be heard messages must be repeated consistently. As the “noise” around us increases the necessity of consistency also increases.
As we enter 2014 what are some of the areas in your life where you need to maintain a long obedience in the same direction? How can you be more consistent?