[Today’s post is by John H. Parker, co-author of the newly released book, Abide With Me, published by New Leaf Press. This account is from the travels of John and his co-author/photographer, Paul Seawright.]

Philip Doddridge, author of “O Happy Day,” set the standard for industry and toughness. He got up every morning at 5:00, and at least one of his students must have gotten up then too, because Philip had a student read to him while he was shaving so as not to waste time. I’m doing well to get up by 6:30 and listen to the Today show while munching through a bowl of shredded wheat.

My father was a preacher, and we lived on a modest level while I was growing up. But I was the only child at home during those years: my brother and sister were grown and married. Life was not that hard for me. Philip was the twentieth child of his parents, and only he and one sister survived past childhood. He later recalled how his mother taught him Bible stories from the pictures on the blue-and-white Dutch tiles of the fireplace. Both parents were dead by the time he was thirteen, and an appointed guardian wasted what little inheritance he was supposed to get. That’s an ordeal I never came close to having to face.

Still, Philip performed so well at the Dissenting Academy at Kibworth in Leicestershire that when the headmaster died he was asked to become headmaster himself. That started him on a brilliant but demanding career as educator and preacher.

I’ve found that people raised in fairly comfortable circumstances are still often hard workers and quite disciplined. But I must recognize that a hard life surely produced a tireless and impressive man in Philip. Doing hard work on the farm and working your way through school are not the only keys to success, but I’ll grant that in many cases like Philip’s they may have been better than today’s computer at age twelve and a car at age sixteen.