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Hard work is key to success
Pastor's corner
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At the beginning of each new year, someone says: “Last year just flew by.”  In reality, each year takes roughly the same amount of time to pass.
However, the way in which we manage our lives is what makes the difference on how time seems to pass. We live in a world where technology is constantly increasing. The media has coerced America’s attention span into as six-second window. Food can be prepared in seconds. It is a world of instant gratification.
Financial mogul Donald Trump took notice of this trend and its damages in his recent book. He brought to bear a stark reality that there is now a generation of people who have been raised in the “instant gratification age.” He calls them the “me” generation.
Throughout the ’80s and ’90s the tech bubble and a booming stock market made it possible for people to quit their jobs and join start up tech companies to become millionaires overnight. The understanding of having to work long and hard for success was replaced by an “I want it all right now” attitude. Trump continued the expansion of this trend into the American psyche by superstar athletes, movie stars and rock musicians who make tremendous amounts of money, even while in their teens.
The media constantly feeds the public stories of easy success. The public buys into it because they want it and believe it should happen for them. It is easier and more pleasant to hope and dream for the big score — the “” or “YouTubes” than it is to develop a plan for the future that will bring success but at the price of tremendous effort.
Much of our society has become very self-centered — believing that they are entitled to success in life without even trying. Another trend that emerged during the ’80s and ’90s was the “self-esteem movement.”  Many who were born and raised during this time were fed a steady stream of compliments on how wonderful and special they were. School grades and score cards during sporting events became the enemy for many. How can one feel special if they have to achieve something to do it?  In the end, being “great” became a right, not a reward. Because of such things, this dangerous and growing trend in society causes people to expect that their lives should be successful, yet leaves them with little to no expectation that one must really work to find that success.
This may seem like an unusual thing for a pastor in the community to write about in a Sunday paper, but it shouldn’t be.  The reality of Christian life is that God wants His people to be successful. Yet, His word (the Bible) is clear that the success designed for man is tied to hard work. There is reward for a man’s labor. A workman is worthy of his hire. Whatever a man sows, that shall he also reap. While this is true in giving, it is true in each area of life. Whatever time, energy, finances and effort you put into a thing should produce at a certain level, based on your level of investment. Obviously due diligence must occur to make certain that the work you are doing will produce the correct results. Still, the principle is sound. Determined effort, consistent focus and vision and, yes, hard work are still the best keys for success. It is by God’s design.
As a spiritual leader in this community, let me be on record that I believe in the growth and success of this community. I think Liberty County should flourish at every level: in faith, in business, in education, and in relationships — both family and community. One great way for this to occur is for her citizens to return to the understanding of the value found in work, and the reward it deserves.
As you step into 2008, you will make a choice. You will choose to continue life as it goes — seeing what will come next and hoping to survive. Or you will choose to build big dreams and spend the year hoping they will come true and being frustrated when they do not emerge. Or you will determine to place specific focus and effort on bringing a change into your life, and in the process, adding value to the lives of those who are around you. When your success is real, your entire community benefits from the blessing of it. Choose to look at life larger. Instead of saying, “What if I could...”, look for ways to say, “How can I...”
Like every other, this year will come and go. Instead of allowing it to fly by grab on to it. Wrestle it to the ground. Climb on its back and ride it. Conquer it. Make 2008 the year that brought change to your outlook on life and how you value it. Let it be the year you learn to invest yourself into the success God designed for you. Let it be the year God blesses the work and effort you put forth!  The reward will be great for you and those who are around you!  HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Byler is the senior pastor of Bethesda Church in Hinesville.
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