“No horse gets anywhere until he is harnessed. No steam or gas ever drives anything until it is confined. No Niagara is ever turned into light and power until it is tunneled. No life ever grows great until it is focused, dedicated, disciplined” (Harry Emerson Fosdick).

AS A PERSONAL CHARACTERISTIC, “DEDICATION” IS NOT ALWAYS THOUGHT OF IN POSITIVE TERMS. These days, a person can believe almost anything he wants and be praised for it, as long as he’s not dogmatic about it. And since dedicated people are very determined about what they do, they’re often considered to be dogmatic or narrow-minded. And not only that, “discipline” is not a very positive word in our culture; so if a person has the discipline required to be dedicated, he will sometimes be seen as being too uptight.

It is certainly true that dedicated people can become unbalanced in their dedication, just like people who are artistic, intelligent, industrious, or any number of other things. Every good quality that we can have must be balanced with other qualities or it will become a destructive force. But dedication, properly understood and balanced with virtues like humility and good humor, is not a bad quality to have. Indeed, there is not much way to live a high-quality life without being dedicated. Dedication is what turns ability into achievement.

The laser probably offers us the best analogy for understanding dedication. A laser uses a beam of light that is extremely concentrated. In simplistic terms, the light shines “here” rather than “here, there, and everywhere.” A light beam can’t become a laser beam until it’s willing to “let go” of all other possibilities and focus itself in just one spot. And when all is said and done, that’s what dedication is: the willingness to make a choice, discipline ourselves, and focus our energies. Dedication means doing one thing rather than dabbling in many.

“Dreams and dedication are a powerful combination” (William Longgood). There is no stopping the person who has weighed the alternatives and made a radical commitment to one passionate pursuit. Yes, it requires giving up many things that “might have been,” but those unwilling to do that don’t accomplish more; they accomplish less. Quality lives don’t just happen — they come from concentrated choice.

“The dedicated life is the life worth living” (Annie Dillard).

Gary Henry — WordPoints.com + AreYouaChristian.com

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