Enthusiasm is the mother of effort, and without it nothing great was ever achieved. — Ralph Waldo Emerson
When Emerson wrote this, I am not sure what specific meaning he was applying to the word “enthusiasm,” but his message is clear and correct. Without enthusiasm, greatness cannot be achieved.
The reason nothing great has, can, or ever will be achieved without enthusiasm is found in the meaning of the word itself. When most people hear the word “enthusiasm,” they think it means “excitement,” or “passion,” and it does, indeed, mean those. However, the reason it means these things is much deeper and found in the Greek origin of the word.
The word “enthusiasm” comes from two Greek words: “en,” meaning “within,” and “theos,” meaning “God”. So the word “enthusiasm” literally means “God within!” It was used to describe people who possessed god-like abilities or very strong, God-inspired, wisdom and convictions.
Think about all of the things you have done in your life, all of the projects, tasks, activities, and even relationships you’ve been involved in. Can you identify those things you did simply because you had to, or you just did it but your heart wasn’t really in it? Now, think about those things that kept you up at night and made it hard to eat or think about anything else because you were so enthusiastic, eager, and convinced beyond all doubt that it was what you were supposed to do!
When you are truly enthusiastic about something, you are being lead by a power that is greater than you, for a purpose far beyond what your eyes can see. You have the power of God within you and there is nothing you cannot do when God is in it! However, if you are just going through the motions or trying to do something that is out of alignment with God, it does not matter how hard you work or how excited you are about it, it will not ultimately succeed.
A good test for whether or not your enthusiasm for something is truly “God within” or just your own human eager desire is the “public test.” Often when we get excited about something that is of our own making and for our own edification, there is a desire to keep it private or do it in secret. If you need to hide what you are doing, chances are pretty good your desire, what you might think is enthusiasm, is not “God within.”
“Unless the Lord builds the house, the laborers build in vain.” What Psalm 127:1 means is this: you may build the house, but if it was not God who told you to build the house, the house will not last.
Emerson is right. Without enthusiasm–God within–nothing great can be achieved. With it, all things are possible!
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