Persist: what a beautiful word, a word that holds such great promise! However, its promise is only realized if it’s lived, especially when the inevitable difficulties arise in one’s pursuit of success—be it in education, improvement in one’s career, the workplace in general, marriage and family, spiritual life, etc. If you’re aiming to succeed, there had better be a little voice in your mind that keeps on shouting, “Persist!” Otherwise, failure is guaranteed.
Thomas Carlyle, a well-known writer, historian, and teacher said this: “Permanence, perseverance, and persistence in spite of all obstacles, discouragements, and impossibilities: It is this, that in all things distinguishes the strong soul from the weak.”
To succeed in anything worthwhile, persistence is required. Its absence is particularly evident in the way some people set or announce their worthy goals, and is the reason that so many good intentions never get off the runway. “I hope to achieve such-and-such” is the kind of statement that signals lack of persistence; a person who merely hopes to achieve a particular goal has a desire to succeed, but is already silently and unintentionally accepting potential failure. That person has no commitment to achieve, is likely to give up when obstacles arise, and will excuse the resulting failure by saying something like, “Well, I had hoped to, but it didn’t happen.” Since there was no acceptance of responsibility to succeed in the first place, there is also none when failure results, and hence no lesson is learned that will produce future success.
By contrast, the committed person, the one who plans to persist in the face of whatever difficulties he or she encounters, says, “I will achieve such-and-such.” “I will persist” is a statement of commitment, of refusal to give up, and this is the attitude that produces the miracles of success in any realm of life. It takes tremendous courage to make this kind of positive statement. But unless you do, winning is a very remote possibility. If you are a Christian and you think this kind of statement is too bold to receive God’s blessing, I suggest you read the Psalms. There you’ll see a lot of “I will” and “I shall” statements.
It was persistence that produced the light bulb, it was persistence that produced penicillin, the polio vaccine, the vote for women, flight, and countless other blessings. It is persistence that brings an ordinary person to a diploma and the necessary knowledge and skill-set to be a medical doctor. And it will be persistence in the setting of worthy goals for you and your family, and persistence in the pursuit of these goals despite difficulties, that will produce a better marriage, paycheque, business, or career. Persistence is what will result in stronger faith, greater courage, and deeper peace in your inner being. These will be God’s gifts to you, if you seek Him in setting your goals and then persist in pursuing them.
Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.
—Hebrews 12:1, 2