People who succeed in life deny themselves and take up a cross. You don't get to be the best by staying in your comfort zone. You do it by working till you sweat blood. You sit at your computer or your designing board or your blueprints or your lesson plan or whatever, long after everybody else has gone home. That's what it means to deny yourself and take up a cross. And it works!

The University of Chicago did a five-year study of leading artists, athletes, and scholars. Conducted by Dr. Benjamin Bloom, the research was based on anonymous interviews with the top twenty performers in various fields. These people included concert pianists, Olympic swimmers, tennis players, sculptors, mathematicians, and neurologists. Bloom and his team of researchers from the University of Chicago probed for clues as to how these achievers developed. For a more complete picture, they interviewed their families and teachers.

The report stated conclusively that drive and determination, not great natural talent, led to the extraordinary success of these individuals. Bloom noted, "We expected to find tales of great natural gifts. We didn't find that at all. Their mothers often said it was another child who had the greater talents." What they found were extraordinary accounts of hard work and dedication: The pianist who practiced several hours a day for seventeen years; the swimmer who rolled out of bed every morning at half-past five to do laps for two hours before school, etc.

If we are to be equally successful in our relationship with God, it will take some work and dedication!