Every January, New Year’s Resolutions permeate our conversations, filling them with hopes of growth and visions of change. Yet, for all the resolutions we make, only 8% of us actually achieve our goals by the year’s end! So, what is it about the few who are able to push through the temptations to quit? They develop the perseverance to not give up when that’s the easiest thing to do.
What is Perseverance?
Merriam-Webster defines perseverance as continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition
The bible talks about perseverance as one of the qualities that we need to lead a spiritual life. Here’s one scripture that explains the importance of growing in perseverance:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James 1:2-4 (NIV)
While the bible clearly teaches us how to persevere, we can also learn from people and organizations that practice this important character trait. Take the San Antonio Spurs for example. They understand that building something great doesn’t come easy or happen overnight. They also know that anybody who wants to do something great must persevere through adversity, self-doubt or doubt from others.
Posted in the locker of every Spurs player is a quote by Jacob Riis that captures the essence of perseverance:
“When nothing seems to help, I go look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it, but all that had gone before it.”
It is likely that Danny Green is the Spurs player who embodies perseverance most. He was picked by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round of the 2009 NBA (National Basketball Association) Draft and spent his rookie year with the team as a bench warmer. After being cut by the Cavaliers in 2010, Green signed a 10-day contract with the Spurs only to be cut just six days into it. After this humbling experience, Green played in the NBDL (National Basketball Developmental League), which is a minor league that occasionally sends its best players to the NBA. Though he had won a national championship while playing at North Carolina, Green was on the cusp of losing his dream of playing in the NBA. But, against all odds, Green decided to persevere and ended up becoming a starter on the Spurs team that didn’t want him just a year before! Danny Green’s career has shown what can happen when someone determines to continue working despite difficulties, failure, or opposition.
In the same way, we can apply what the bible teaches about perseverance to our lives.
But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness.
I Timothy 6:11 (NLT)
It’s easy for Christians to pursue their faith and love while missing the value of developing perseverance. Why? Because it takes time and is difficult to maintain.
We all have areas in our lives in which perseverance is particularly challenging to exercise. For me, school is especially tough because I’m in a doctorate program that demands a level of discipline and focus that I’ve never had.
What areas of your life demand the most perseverance from you? Maybe it’s a relationship with someone you can’t stand at times and requires you to have more patience than you currently have. Or maybe it’s a situation at work that creates seemingly endless stress in your life. Whatever your situation, one thing you can count on is that pursuing perseverance will lead to growth and maturity, if you allow it to finish its work.
God calls us to persevere, and there is no better time to pursue this essential quality than as we start 2015! He knows that if we grow in perseverance this year, we’ll be able to accomplish more than just our New Year’s resolutions!