vs. Incompleteness
Knowing what factors will diminish the effectiveness of my work or words if neglected

Key Verse

“The heart of the prudent getteth knowledge; and the ear of the wise seeketh knowledge.”
Proverbs 18:15

The operational definition of thoroughness is “knowing what factors will diminish the effectiveness of my work or words if neglected.” To do a job well, you must first identify the end goal. Then, consider what is needed, called “factors,” to accomplish that goal successfully. You may need certain tools, step-by-step plans, or experienced people to assist you. Other factors may be discerning the amount of time needed or the expected level of detail. For example, a person who is thorough listens attentively to instructions and keeps deadlines in mind. When speaking, he relays all important, relevant information in order to communicate the full situation and not mislead. He works efficiently and cleans up completely after a project. Thoroughness involves thinking ahead and committing to do whatever it takes to ensure that every part of an assignment is completed—even if additional time, effort, or care is required.

A thorough person carefully considers details, methods, and deadlines that will help him complete his work effectively.
Just as a jigsaw puzzle is incomplete without all the pieces, so our work will be incomplete if any of the necessary factors are missing or omitted.

The opposite of thoroughness is incompleteness. If a project is left unfinished, it is incomplete, and the time and effort that were invested are wasted. Projects that are finished but were done in a disorganized or hurried way may actually be incomplete, possibly hazardous, and will likely require additional time and work later. For example, if someone carelessly wipes the kitchen table, some crumbs will likely be missed. The job will be incomplete. If he runs off to play, he may be called to come back to do the job correctly. A task might not be finished on time if someone dawdles, becomes overwhelmed with unnecessary details (perfectionism), or procrastinates. Other jobs may not be done thoroughly because a person lacks focus, “cuts corners,” or neglects to check his work.

Evaluation Questions

  • Is my work done well with the awareness that God sees and rewards my work?
  • Do I find myself working hard only when I am aware that someone is watching?
  • Do I take time to fully prepare for the Lord’s Supper by examining my heart?
  • Before beginning a task, do I think through the most efficient and effective way to complete it?
  • Am I able to distinguish essential factors from unnecessary steps to complete a job well?
  • Do I thoroughly brush my teeth and wash my hands, or do I rush to be done?
  • Are my work and play areas tidy?
  • Do I take the time to move items so I can clean underneath them as well as around them?
  • Am I distracted by unnecessary, perfectionist ideas that would delay a timely completion?
  • Do I leave work for others to do, such as cleanup?

More About Thoroughness

“There must be a beginning of any great matter, but the continuing unto the end until it thoroughly be finished yields the true glory.”
Sir Francis Drake
Transformation results as we behold the Lord and yield to the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (II Corinthians 3:18). As we see God’s character through testimonies in Scripture, we grow in our understanding and obedience to His Word. Here are ten aspects of Thoroughness with supporting verses found in God’s Word.

God enables me to:


Check my motives.

“Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.” Psalm 51:6

Plan my work.

“Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build thine house.” Proverbs 24:27

Ensure nothing is missing.

“And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them; and they made ready the passover.” Matthew 26:19

Pay attention to details.

“For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” Matthew 5:18

Make a way to remember.

“And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.” Deuteronomy 6:6–9

Carefully manage my responsibilities.

“He that gathereth in summer is a wise son: but he that sleepeth in harvest is a son that causeth shame.” Proverbs 10:5 “Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” I Corinthians 4:2

Clean up as I work.

“Let all things be done decently and in order.” I Corinthians 14:40

Finish what I start.

“But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” Acts 20:24

Complete even the small things.

“He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.” Luke 16:10

Make needed corrections.

“Then said I unto them, Ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire: come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach.” Nehemiah 2:17

Thoroughness in Scripture

A Priest Wisely Manages His Assignment

“And I said unto them, Ye are holy unto the Lord; the vessels are holy also; and the silver and the gold are a freewill offering unto the Lord God of your fathers. Watch ye, and keep them, until ye weigh them before the chief of the priests and the Levites, . . . in the chambers of the house of the Lord.”
Ezra 8:28–29
Jerusalem’s city walls and Temple lay in ruins. Many of the Jews had been taken captive to Babylon because God had judged His people for their sin. Yet God was merciful to His people living in Babylon. Later, when King Cyrus ruled Babylon, the Lord told him to build a house for God in Jerusalem. King Cyrus invited the Jews in Babylon to return to Jerusalem. A group soon set out to build a second temple, led by two priests, Zerubbabel and Jeshua. When the Temple foundation was laid, the people shouted and wept so loudly that the sound was heard far away. Enemies of the Jews opposed the work several times, and consequently, construction halted for years. One day two prophets encouraged the people to resume the work. Zerubbabel and Jeshua began again, joined by the prophets. This time their enemies not only opposed the work, but also notified the new Babylonian king, Darius. When he found the record of Cyrus’s proclamation, he told the enemies to leave the Jews alone and even provide whatever supplies they needed! Soon the Temple was completed and the people rejoiced! Whom would God raise up to teach His people? What would a future Babylonian king, Artaxerxes, give this person to manage?

Revealed in Nature

American Alligator

The American alligator prepares a nesting spot that is not too high and not too low, not too wet and not too dry, not too hot and not too cold. By building to precise specifications without overlooking any details, the alligator assures the integrity of its nest until the young safely hatch.

For Kids

Biblical Character Illustrated Curriculum

The Biblical Character Illustrated Curriculum uses examples from the lives of men and women in the Bible whose walk with God resulted in good character or whose lack of faith produced poor character. Through this study, children are encouraged to give the necessary effort, care, and time to get a job done correctly and well.

View the Thoroughness booklet sample:

Get the complete Thoroughness booklet with all four lessons & activities:

Free Resources for Thoroughness

Enjoy these selections from the Biblical Character Illustrated Curriculum that are fun and memorable!

Bible Story Coloring Page
Verse & Definition Word Search
Related Hymn Sheet Music
Attention to detail is the difference between mediocrity and excellence in the work we do.