When a carpenter goes forth in the morning to begin his day's work, he goes supplied with an equipment of the tools that are required by his trade. He puts each tool to its intended use, in his line of work. With saw and hammer and square he does not try to lay a brick wall or to shoe a horse.
When a artist assembles color tubes, brushes, palette, and canvas, he does so for the purpose of painting a picture. With the tools of his trade he does not attempt to reduce a block of marble to the exquisite proportions of a Madonna or to the heroic outlines of a Hercules.
The worker reveals his trade by the kind of tools that he uses. The singer uses his voice; the athlete uses his body; the weaver uses his loom. The product of the worker reveals the skill with which the tools have been employed. A mediocre product is the sign of a mediocre worker; a superior product is the sign of a worker who has some advantage over the one whose product is mediocre.
The advantage possessed by the superior worker rarely is to be called natural gift. Usually it is a development. The superior worker uses all his equipment, and he steadily increases his equipment. To improve himself and his work is his great objective, and to the attainment of his objective he directs all his resources. The mediocre worker lacks an inspiriting objective. He is not outstandingly eager to improve himself or his product.
If your are a superior worker you know that you can win, and you make yourself win. If you are a mediocre worker you will neglect to take with you to your daily occupation the most necessary of all tools -- confident aspiration. You become discontented, chronically unsuccessful; you set your success in the future and there it remains. You claim that your troubles are due to injustice somewhere. You say that economic inequalities forbid your success. You think that the remedy for your trouble lies in the acts of others; you are convinced that legislation can do for you what you have not done for yourself.
Social customs and legislated laws are the expressions of the mental and the moral development of the people in the areas where the customs and the laws operate. If you demand that changes be made in the unwritten and in the written laws that operate in your area, begin the changes by making changes in yourself. In doing this you will create an unvoiced, but nevertheless a definite call for those laws. Make yourself a beneficiary of the better laws, even before they are created. Justice is not dead, not asleep, not on vacation. The better customs and laws that you wish to see in operation will begin to act at the moment of humanity's readiness for them. Governments are as good and as just as are warranted by the intelligence and the consciousness of the people governed. Your thought, your life, your work, contribute to the demand that fore-runs social and economic changes. Stop knocking and go to nailing, if you would have a better community
and a better national structure. You have active influence in all the spheres of life.
You are equipped to meet the demands of every sphere that you enter. If you have not been meeting the demands of your sphere, begin now to use the equipment that will adjust you and your sphere to each other. "A poor workman blames his tools." If you have been a poor workman, discontented and apparently unsuccessful, the condition is in part due to your having tried to paint your masterpiece on canvas with a chisel -- an instrument that you should reserve for your work in marble. No doubt the chisel is a good chisel; it will lend itself to good work in its proper medium. When you apply it to another medium you do not have pride in the result. Fit your equipment to your work, and you will not blame your tools. You will be pleased with the result.
You came into this world equipped to meet every demand that this world will make of you.
You have a brain. Use it. You acquired it for use. Your brain is solely for your use; it is the only brain in the world whose work can be of particular value to you. Think; do not be content in playing at thinking. Your brain will enjoy the exercise involved in real thinking; dormant cells will awake, and all awake cells will work for you. Search. Delve into the matter that interests you; do not be satisfied with skimming the surface. Then knowledge, understanding, enjoyment, will reward your efforts. Resolve every point that arises in any case. Use your full mental equipment; you will progressively become a better worker.
You have a body. Train it to serve you, not to rule you. Educate it to health, strength, endurance. It provides contact with the visible world; therefore by all the improvement that you make in it you are the better served by it. Always keep your mind and your body in correct relationship; mind, the director; body, the agent.
You have an environment. Fill it with God. Never put into your environment anything that can hamper your most accurate expression of the God idea. You have to associate with and to do business with the ideas, the thoughts, the fancies that you give shelter in your consciousness. People your consciousness with good and your environment with good; then there will be no terrors for you to face, no jangled nerves to impair your ability. Then you and success will become a sturdy team, the universe looking on and cheering, the while.
The world is you field. Wherever mankind exists, there you exist. Wherever mankind hopes and tries, there you hope and try. You diffuse yourself through humanity; what you are makes itself felt, even though who you are remains unrecognized. Your equipment of brain, body, environment, is augmented by your ability, your training, and the practice that you have had. All these advantages brought to play in your field make of you a master worker.
The discipline that you give your mind, the information that you collect, will serve you in special needs. Years prior to the outbreak of the War between the States, the questions involved in that
struggle engrossed the attention of the people. Fervid discourses, lofty appeals, acrimonious debates, demanded national audition. Prejudiced views and dispassionate considerations were offered. The climax of argument occurred in the Congress when Webster delivered his reply to the speech of Hayne. In the congratulations tendered Webster following the address, one admirer referred to the speech as a triumph of extemporaneous eloquence. Webster saith that the speech was not extemporaneous; that he had known from the day when the preceding session closed that reassembling would bring forward the unsettled questions; that in the days of his intervening vacation he had been amassing the facts and the arguments that he had just delivered -- to the great admiration of his sympathizers.
The presentation of your theme is based on preceding consideration of the theme. Perhaps the most truly extemporaneous speech ever made in this world was made by Adam during the famous interview in the garden (Gen. 3:9). At that, Adam had to do some quick thinking against the background of consequences.
Every thought on any topic and every moment's consideration of any subject are preparations that enable you to speak, to speak tellingly. They form a mental equipment the mere possession of which gives you happiness.
Until you have become acquainted with your soul you cannot know what riches lie concealed beneath the exterior. Uncivilized tribes range a vast tract of virgin soil, seeking pasturage for their flocks. They may superficially cultivate the soil with a flint
or with a crooked stick. Under this cultivation they raise sparse crops of cereal, which, supported by nature's offering of fruit and berry and nut, make frugal sustenance for their numbers. The civilized man comes, observes the soil, and says, "This will produce abundantly." He employs the modern engines of agriculture; he plows and mellows and plants acres in a day; he cultivates his crops; he stores in granaries, and he ships. Where the ignorant tribesman lives scantily, he lives opulently. He knew what wealth lay in the soul, unused, until knowledge made that wealth available.
A mineralogist observes the soil that is being excavated by men who know nothing of mineralogy. He sees thrown out a clay that is significant to him. He says, "Diamonds should be found here." He sets a force at work to expose the promising stratum. The clay is closely inspected; clods are broken open, and the diamonds that have lain concealed for ages reward the man who knew where they were and how to bring them to the surface.
A stream having origin in a mountain height leaps in snowy foam and pearly spray and glinting waterfalls down the precipitous slopes. The aborigine camped by the stream, his evening fire jetting fugitive lances of light into the greenery about. The pioneer succeeded the aborigine, and a log cabin was reared in the valley at the place where the madcap waters compose themselves into a stately river. The pioneer lighted his abode by a strip of cloth fed with grease, or he used candles of his own making. Later, the triumph of the kerosene lamp gave
comparative brilliancy to the cabin's interior. But came a man who understood somewhat of nature's ways and her hidden arsenals of power. He hitched certain appliances to the rioting waters, and thereby transmitted a light as of numberless shining drops. A thousand dwellings drive forth night, and machinery spins in response to the conjunction of appliance and stream. The possibility had been there from the first day of the stream's descent of the mountain, but not until intelligence was brought to bear on the situation did the stream yield its magnificent contribution to the happiness and the well-being of humanity.
Life is the virgin soil. Within you are gifts, treasures, abilities. These you may find and enjoy. But you will have to bring them into the realm where they can be of service. To make your mind yield in the abundance that will nourish and enrich you, you will have to cultivate it. You will have to delve below the surface of appearances for the treasures of life; you will have to separate the jewel from its enshrouding clay. You will have to harness the energy that now dissipates itself aimlessly, and transform it into motive power and illumination. Your equipment in detail is the mechanism of heaven in aggregate. If you do not apply your equipment it remains of no value to you.
That use increases your equipment is obvious in experience. The rasping notes that a child draws in his first touch of the violin may be toned to melody and even mastery, as practice gives the child familiarity and assurance. A young woman in
training for secretarial work confuses her stenographic symbols, stumbles in trying to read them, and clumsily operates her typewriter. By diligent practice she converts these inefficiencies into perfection of service. The spirit of success is compounded of courage and effort. Postponement of realization is the inevitable result of self-distrust and spasmodic activity.
Nowhere else in the language of man is there given such a lesson on use and nonuse as Jesus taught in the parable of the pounds (Luke 19:11).
True in the smallest detail and true in the grand totality, the man who used his pound and increased it by ten pounds was made ruler over ten cities; the man who with one pound gained five pounds more was made ruler over five cities; the man who made no use of his pound was deprived of his pound, which was given to the man who had made the largest gain. Jesus did not present this parable as an exposition of divine reward or of divine retribution. He was teaching that life is exact. Plant a tree in good soil, give the tree water and air and sunlight, and the tree will grow. Plant a tree in the rocky floor of a dark, dry cave, and the tree will not grow. Use causes increase; nonuse causes decrease. "Unto every one that hath shall more be given; but from him that hath not, even that which he hath shall be taken away from him."
Similarities find each other. Where one robin goes in the spring other robins follow. Two drops of water rush toward each other; they embrace; they are merged, and each drop finds itself increased
by the size of the other. Justly, beautifully, exactly, naturally, "unto every one that hath shall be given." You have your pound; use it, and you will receive five pounds more, ten pounds more. Life owes you nothing; life never will owe you anything. The use of your equipment increases your equipment in every intended operation to which you put it. By that increase life keeps you recompensed.
Your ability is equipment. You have apparent ability and nonapparent ability.
Your apparent ability is the ability that you have developed. Your nonapparent ability is the ability that now is dormant in you; you can rouse this ability and set it to work for you.
Your apparent ability is the ability that you have developed. Your nonapparent ability is the genius of God, with which you as yet have not made intelligent union. The genius of God, operating variously, produces all phenomena. What you have developed of it is an infinitely small fraction of what you may develop.
Of the glories that lie in the deeps of God, Paul quoted, "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him" (I Cor. 2:9).
King of the land, king of the sea, king of the air, man has yet one domain in which to establish his authority. That domain is his mind. Voice circling the planet, inventions proclaiming him a near-god, man has yet to put that control on his desires that will cause the lesser to serve the greater. The
discoveries, the inventions, the sciences that man has brought into the world are some of the things that Paul included in his cryptic inventory. At about the middle of the nineteenth century, a man associated with the patent office of this country advised the discontinuance of that department of government because he believed that inventive genius had probed nature's last mechanical secret. The man was as wise, as foreseeing, as are those who today believe that there is an end to the resources of God or that novelty is exhausted.
Paul said that the things are prepared for those who love God.
This specification is well made. Love embodies confidence; it reaches forth to the thing loved. To be confident of unrevealed truths, facts, possibilities, is to invite their confidence in you and their reciprocal reaching toward you. Love and confidence are two items that you must be sure to include with the rest of you equipment.
Jesus preceded Paul in the teaching that there are hidden treasures and undeveloped gifts in you. In speaking of the Comforter to come, and in enumerating what the Comforter would bring, Jesus said, "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot hear them now" (John 16:12). You possess unsuspected faculties; within your mental possibilities are unsuspected areas of consciousness; God, loving you, holds at your ability to receive, unsuspected forms of good. Always gaining the new, you are apprised of yet other newness alluringly agitating the curtains of ignorance behind which it awaits you; always the
urge of the unrevealed to win you from staleness and apathy; always God your objective, you always find God to be the equipment that insures your success. Thus, the way to your objective; thus, the unrolling tapestry of life's endeavors, tersely called evolution.
When ability is greatly in evidence you will hear it spoken of as natural ability. All ability is natural ability; an artificial ability would be an impossibility. There may be pretense at ability, but the pretense is easily detectable; it does not produce the results that follow the exercise of ability. All ability is natural to you. Whatever you develop has its source in you; the development is due to your treatment of the source. The genius of God is under the command of your choice. You are equipped with the omniscience and the omnipotence of God. Compare that equipment with the equipment that you daily employ. The comparison will account for the results that have been unsatisfactory to you.
Willingness is the open door to advancement.
You must be willing to cooperate with your associates. If at times this is not easy for you to do, act as if you were willing. Doing this, you will find matters proceeding so smoothly that you will become willing to cooperate. You cannot win by withholding the contribution of your good will and your ability. I have seen this proved in a number of instances. One instance:
Two lads were employed in the same department of a business concern. A vacancy was to occur in another department. Both lads aspired to the position
to be vacated, as the appointment would be a promotion. One lad excelled in personal appearance, popularity, and apparent ability; but in the absence of his supervisors he neglected his work, and by mischievous pranks put the department into an uproar. The other lad worked under all circumstances; he never discounted his ability by any sort of inattention. He received the appointment. The popular, handsome, capable lad, to punish the concern that had not promoted him despite his inattention to duty, resigned, signed a contract that for a number of years bound him to another work in which promotion could not occur.
You must be willing to cooperate with situations. Your progress on the path of evolution has brought you to your present surroundings. Discontent magnifies the features of your environment that you choose to resent. Your resentment temporarily halts your progress; your equipment temporarily halts your progress; your equipment is not directed to the best purposes, and you suffer for its misuse. The facts I have seen illustrated many times. I give you a story supportive of these statements. The one who had the experience related it to me:
"I had a good job. I did my work well, and I was well paid. But I began to think that I was too good for my job. I grouched and quarreled with myself until I persuaded myself to resign. That was months ago. I have not since been able to find work, and my old position is closed to me.
"The bank in which I had deposited my savings has failed. I now have neither work nor money. But I have learned something. I put myself on the side
of failure, and failure did a thorough piece of work for me. Once I get another chance, just watch me hold on!"
Another chance came; his former position again was opened to him. He accepted gratefully, and he held on. He became willing to cooperate with situations, and his familiar situation received him back. He thought that he had failed; he had only postponed appreciation of his opportunity and the success that it made possible for him.
You must be willing to cooperate with life. When you cooperate with life, life cooperates with you. It equips you with substantial proof of its sustaining, renewing presence. Life never will desert you, and while you cooperate with life you do not desert it. There is sustenance in life for you, and also there are building processes that cause apparent lack to become satisfying fullness. The details of your cooperation are not questioned; the act of cooperation is all that life requires of you. Again I give you one our of many examples:
A young man ran from a burning house, his clothing in flames. As he ran he tore his blazing garments from his body. He staggered into a hospital. Immediately he was give the best of attention, but the physicians in charge said that he could not recover from the burns that had seared more than one half of his body surface.
In bed, bandaged, suffering, the young man began to sing. The attendants said that he was rallying before transition. He sang on. Then they said that the singing was an expression of delirium caused
by suffering. He continued to sing. It was then said that his singing was an effect of medicines administered. Still the young man sang. He recovered. He said, "When I ran from the house with my clothing in flames, I determined to live. I knew that if I could keep my thoughts on life and could keep singing, I should live."
He cooperated with life, and life cooperated with him.
The willing spirit is a challenge to God. He accepts the challenge, and He prevails against you in the sense that whereas you give Him your littleness He gives you His greatness.
If you apply your equipment grudgingly you restrict your success. Cheerful application of all that you have, all that you are, enlarges your success.
The most unhappy spectacle in God's universe is the sullen worker, who works because he must work, with eyes hard set against the glory that flows from the heart of endeavor. If you say, "I work simply because my bread depends on my day's wages," you tarnish your equipment by base uses. You are to work because you are part of the machinery of the universe. Your daily supply will be issued to you, "for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of" (Matt. 6:8) bread and dress and shelter. In divine reciprocity your supply is contemporaneous with your effort; in divine sequence the spirit that you put into your work is your requisition for supply. If you work only for bread, bread is all that you will receive -- usually bread of a poor sort and malnutritious.
The happiest sight in God's universe is the
responsive worker. Glad for opportunity to prove himself, eager to contribute of himself, mind and body and spirit blended as one pulsing mechanism of ability, he moves to the divine tempo: "My Father worketh ... and I work" (John 5:17). If you so work, bread will be yours and the joy of banquets in the halls of heaven; dress will be yours, the loveliness of well-wrought robes; houses will be yours, fairer and richer mansions successively throwing wide their doors to give you entrance. God is good. God is just. God is merciful.
Opportunity is everywhere, always. It awaits your appreciation and your use. You cannot escape from it. Earth, heaven, and hell are crammed with opportunity. Time clamors, importuning you to cope with its needs; imploring you to earn its rewards. Eternity mutely, serenely, discloses its vistas of endeavor and consequence. Life is opportunity. God is equipment. You choose and use, or you choose and neglect.
You must proceed with life. You have no alternative. You survive all change; you create, and your creations follow you along the path of life. Your field is where you are; your equipment is what you have made it. Your field ever will be where you are; your equipment ever will be what you make it. Your ideal forever remains within yourself. The German youth of romance, whose way to the land of his choice closed against him, said, "I will return to my field, and I will say, 'Here or nowhere is America.' "
Be not wont to despise your equipment and your place. Be not morose if the chosen thing eludes you. If it is yours it will seek you, even as you seek it. If it
is but a hint of what is yours, the fact that it represents is now seeking you; the fact and you will find each other. What God has joined together not time or space or even blundering can keep apart.
Here is all fullness, ye brave, to reward you;
Work, and despair not.
Within your present environment lies the glowing paradise you seek. Here or nowhere is your flawless equipment. Here or nowhere is opportunity. Here or nowhere is God.
On an occasion of being commended for his literary achievements, Richter said, "I have done what I could with the stuff." Nothing unused of his equipment, nothing neglected of his opportunity, his product was testimony of his ability; it was his offering to life, his impress of the genius of God.
"I have done what I could with the stuff." Trained mind and body to serve the highest purposes in life; used ability as an exercise to increase ability; willingly cooperated with every essential contact; met each opportunity with the superlative response.
Are you doing what you can with the stuff?
You are the worker who perfectly applies his perfect equipment to each day's work.
My equipment is the genius of God.
My opportunity is here.
I will do what I can with the stuff.