I have found myself trying to disentangle my headphones cables when preparing to write this blog on perseverance (as writing always seems to go more smoothly when listening to music!) – and it took a while. I needed to persevere in disentangling – and was getting a bit annoyed. Such a small thing but even then!
We seem to live in a world where instant gratification rules: I do not want to wait, but I would like it, whatever it might be, rather now than wait for it or work for it long term, whether it is an instant coffee on the go, rather chilling and playing than finishing a long piece of work or rather play a match than doing repetitive drills to improve a skill (let’s talk sports!). You can see small children going for instant gratification and we as adults do not seem to have grown out of living out this urge either, but probably we are just better in hiding and managing our impulses. Perseverance seems to be a counter-cultural value.
When persevering, there always seems to be a cost involved, some kind of pain, suffering, waiting and keeping going patiently and a sense of not having achieved the goal yet. You have to pull through and endure to get there. It might seem more appealing to be in pain-avoidance mode and, I guess, that is our natural tendency.
So, why should we persevere? Why not just give up or go for short cuts? Why not simply go for instant gratification in whatever area it might be? Why should we encourage the young people we work with to persevere and be role models ourselves?
I have just moved countries and there is always some kind of transition and culture shock, as mild as it can be, involved. Without perseverance there would be no overcoming of culture shock and fully settling in and feeling at home.
Without perseverance there is often no real achievement – and no reason to celebrate! Without perseverance, there is no growth, no overcoming barriers and obstacles and no fruit. Patience and perseverance produce character growth which produces hope (Romans 5:4-6).
We need encouragement and support to persevere. On our own, it would be a tough race to run. I still think back to the image of the Brownlee brothers, Alistair and Jonny, pulling through to the end, Alistair helping his brother Jonny over the finishing line in a triathlon in Mexico. Without Alistair encouraging and helping his brother to persevere, he probably would not have made it to the finishing line in that race. They had persevered in training before and they persevered in the race to make it to the finish line. There would have been no celebration of finishing the race, but probably a sense of failure and discouragement.
As Christians, we are involved in even a more important race to finish well. The writer of the letter to the Hebrews in the Bible encourages to run the race with endurance, fixing our eyes on Jesus (Hebr. 12:1-2), because there is inexpressible joy ahead. Let us get rid off everything us that hinders us to finish the race well and be able to say with Paul: “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Tim. 4:7). Let us encourage the children, staff and people we work with to keep going and run the race with endurance because there will be joy, not just instant, pleasure-seeking gratification, but pure joy.
What keeps you from running the race with perseverance? In which areas of your life do you need perseverance? In which areas do you need discernment whether to give them up or persevere? What is a goal worth persevering for? What might help you to persevere? Who can you encourage to persevere?
Susanne Koch – Manager of Excellence and Innovation