Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
― James 1:4
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love
― 2 Peter 1: 5-7
It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.
Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large,
or petty—never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield
to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.
― Winston Churchill
There are going to be times when you’re tempted to give up on the things that really matter in life. Don’t.
I’m talking here about things like developing healthier relationships with others, pursuing educational goals, achieving work aspirations, becoming a more psychologically healthy human being, achieving reasonable financial goals, and growing into a spiritually mature person. These are all worthy callings, and I want to encourage you to never give up in pursuing these.
The tendency to give up in life is tied to the challenge to persevere. Call it persistence, determination, diligence, resolve, drive, tenacity, grit, doggedness, tirelessness, devotion, or steadfastness, we all have to decide, on a daily basis, whether or not we are going to aspire to possess these qualities or go in the opposite direction.
I want to turn the word perseverance into an acronym, PERSEVERANCE, and walk you through the key characteristics of this crucial quality in life. I’m happy to say that this is one of the few things I didn’t steal from anyone else and created on my own.
Patience: We have to be patient and allow things to play out in their own time frame.
Endurance: We have to bear the pain along the way to achieving what we want.
Resilience: We have to bounce right back up when we experience a setback.
Sacrifice: We have to be willing to sacrifice time, energy, and talent to achieve what we want.
Effort: We have to put in a lot of effort and avoid laziness at all costs.
Vision: We have to have a clear vision of what we’re trying to accomplish.
Experience: We have to execute our plan and learn from the setbacks along the way.
Relationships: We need to involve others in our efforts to accomplish our goals.
Attitude: We have to have a realistic and optimistic attitude in pursuing our aspirations.
Necessity: We need to do whatever it takes, within moral/ethical constraints, to achieve.
Courage: Pursuing our goals always involves setbacks, and we have to courageously press on.
Enthusiasm: We need to be optimistic and passionate about our goals, “bring the juice.”
I hope you’re as impressed as I am that I came up with this. Anyway, these are the qualities we have to exhibit in life if we want to persevere and achieve our goals. Lack any of these ten attributes, and your chances of being successful drop considerably.
Let me speak out of the other side of my mouth for just a minute. Like we’ve talked about before, it is important to quit when you’re pursuing things you are not capable of (running the 100-yard dash in nine seconds), that are highly unlikely (getting a Nobel Prize in physics when you and science are water and oil), not within your capabilities (being perfect), or flat out immoral/unethical (idolatrously amassing as much wealth, power, and sex as you can).
That might be hard to hear, and it can certainly be difficult to discern what you’re capable of and what you’re not.
Nevertheless, try to be discerning about how your goals fall into these various categories. You don’t want to persevere in the name of achieving something that isn’t yours to achieve.
As W.C. Fields put it, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There’s no point in being a damn fool about it.”
I want you to take some time to write down what goals you want to accomplish in life. Be as specific as you can.
After you do that, I want you to put each of the things you wrote down in one of the following four categories:
1) reasonable and doable
3) highly unlikely
After you do that, I want you to agree with yourself that you are only going to pursue goals in life that fall into the first category.
Even then, you’re going to be faced with the challenge of how hard it is to persevere in pursuit of those goals, but at least you’re not defeating yourself before the race even begins.
Let me leave you with some important quotes about perseverance.
“The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are, first, hard work; second, stick-to-itiveness; third, common sense.” (Thomas A. Edison)
“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.” (Dale Carnegie)
“By perseverance the snail reached the ark.” (Charles Spurgeon)
“It’s always too soon to quit!” (Norman Vincent Peale)
“The only guarantee for failure is to stop trying.” John C. Maxwell)
“Remember: talent is luck, perseverance is not.” (Maxime Lagacé)
Munchkins, never give up on your reasonable, doable, and moral goals in life. Never.