This other very important fact needs to be clear, that no amount of energy put forth for another will mean development for him. He must exercise his own arm for strength and solve his own problem. Development only comes through the effort of each individual for himself; hence the best teacher is the one who can rouse the pupil to the greatest endeavor.
(4) Habit Formation.
It is impossible to act, physically, mentally or spiritually, without making it easier to repeat the action, and soon ease passes to tendency, then tendency to compulsion, and life is in the grip of a habit. This is the inevitable outcome of activity, until “nine-tenths of life is lived in the mould of habit.”
If it be true that habit is “ten times second nature,” the importance of directing activity toward the formation of right habits needs no discussion.
IV. The Fourth Principle of unfolding life deals with its crises. “The crucial points in development are those times when new possibilities begin to unfold.”
The life comes from God complete in its possibilities, but at the beginning all is in germ. As life progresses, development of these possibilities proceeds, but it is not uniform. The body acquires ability to control the larger muscles before it can adjust the finer and more complex ones, as instanced in the child’s ability to walk before he can thread a needle. The mind is able to imagine before it can reason clearly. The feelings center on self before they reach out to the world around. As every new possibility begins to develop, two serious facts must be remembered:
(1) Direction must be given in the beginning before tendencies are fixed.
A beginning is always a time of easy adjustment and flexibility. Business corporations can readily alter a course of action before a policy has been established. The nurseryman can easily secure the straight trunk of the mature tree in the yielding sapling. The law is just as true when it touches human life. The trend of any possibility is determined largely in the beginning of its unfolding. After that time has gone by, conditions are practically fixed, and he that is unjust will be unjust still, and he that is holy will be holy still.
(2) Future strength and vigor are largely determined in the beginning of development.
It is well nigh impossible to overcome the effect of early neglect. If the culture of the growing stalk is passed over, the corn in the ear can not be full. If the bodily needs of the boy are unmet, he can not reach his full development as a man. If his budding intellectual life, his awakening feeling life, or the delicate unfolding of his spiritual life is neglected, a complete, rounded out maturity is impossible. A starved childhood is always the prophecy of a stunted manhood, while life nourished in its beginning foretells vigorous maturity.
V. The very important question now arises, “How may these crucial times be recognized?” The answer is given in the Fifth Principle. “A new interest always accompanies an awakening possibility.”