The other day my son posted a quote on Facebook. He had been at a Nashville Symphony Chorus rehearsal, I believe, and the conductor had said something profound:
"If you know of any way to get results other than discipline and hard work, please let me know. Is there something on Facebook or Instagram that I'm missing?"
You can go days on social media and not see anything of lasting value, then...this. I don't know the person who made this statement, but the instant I read it I wanted to meet him/her and give them a hug. It probably sounded familiar to Patrick, since I've been preaching this same gospel all of his life. The fact that he thought it worthy of sharing on Facebook made my day. The fact is, there is no better advice for a young person to hear than the notion that there are no shortcuts to success in life.
I spent ten years teaching teenagers Sunday School at my church. I loved it, I loved them, basically because they were all so brand new to the world, so full of talent and potential. I would look at them and wonder what they would do with their lives, who would they become? Some of them had natural advantages like strong families, and well connected support groups. Some came from well off parents. Others didn't have much in the way of money or family support. So, each path would be different, more difficult for some, more headwinds, less resources. My message to them all was the same, if you want to make something of yourself in this world, there is no substitute for hard work.
Years have passed since the days when my house was overrun by wild, starving teenagers every weekend. But I have never lost track of those kids, hundreds of them, thanks in no small part to social media sites like Facebook. Some of the most advantaged kids have struggled finding their way as adults. Some of the kids with the most barriers in their way have flourished. Many of the kids who I thought would do well have. But there have also been surprises. That strange boy who never said a lot, or that shy girl who always seemed sad about something have astonished me with what they have been able to build with their lives. Everyone of them who have done well have one thing in common...they all have worked their tails off. None of them have won the lottery, not a single one has inherited a fortune or stumbled onto some get rich quick scheme. None of them have been overnight successes. It's been a slow hard grind, full of setbacks and disappointments, but despite the difficulties, or perhaps because of them, they have overcome and built wonderful lives for themselves.
So, to the conductor who imparted this beautiful truth to a group of singers in Nashville, whoever you are...thank you.