Persistence is necessary to the fulfillment of any mission. Talent, genius, education, and even spirituality is not enough in and of itself to be successful in your mission, the prize goes to the persistent. In this episode we talk about the necessity and the power of persistence.
Persistence is the Prerequisite to Victory
Persistence is firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition (dictionary).
It occurred to me earlier this week that one thing is necessary to accomplish the mission before us… persistence. Some days I feel like it, most days I do not feel like it. Hard things are called hard things for a reason: They are hard to do.
We characterize persistence in many ways; discipline, tenacity, determination, even endurance.
I have a card with a quote from Calvin Coolidge under the glass of the desk in my study. It says this:
“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”Calvin Coolidge
I have a bold statement to make, disciplined persistence is the single most important thing to moving your mission forward.
Wait a minute, isn’t Holy Spirit empowerment, God making us strong in our weakness the most important thing in accomplishing his mission? I don’t want to argue the philosophy of it, but think of it like this, how many anointed and spiritually gifted people have you known who simply did not move their mission forward, even with their passionate spirituality and zeal. It is because they did not take persistent action.
Obedience and action are related. True obedience requires action. It is the persistent, every day, disciplined determination that moves a vision into reality. Our framework slogan is, “Get in the Presence of God, a Passion will arise, a Path will emerge, and a Practice will result. Without the resulting actions, the vision and the inspiration does not matter.
God is a God of action. Incarnation is all about implementation.
Discipleship itself is instruction in discipline.
Here are our encouragements to be persistent.
#1 Dedication to Christ’s (and Your) Mission Keeps You Focused
A sense of calling is important. Our vocation is more than our job, the way we earn income, our vocation is what we do, it’s our calling. Your vocation and the way you resource your life may be two different things, but ideally they should be connected.
“…I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me.”2 Timothy 1.12 ESV
I am convinced… He is able to guard… what has been entrusted to me.
I often have moments and sometimes seasons of doubt. Are we on the right path? Am I spending my life in the right way? Have I really heard from God on our life direction?
The question I am asked most often is, “How do you know the will of God?” The answer cannot be contained in volumes, but when it comes to my assignment, I have to find a confidence that we are on the right path, and God will direct us otherwise if we’ve taken a wrong turn or two.
As it relates to this podcast, we are convinced of this calling, and now it is a matter of staying focused on it and being persistent in doing the things we must to to successfully execute.
#2 Motivation is a Liar
I was inspired by Jocko Willink’s Prager U video about discipline (Google it). He reminded me that motivation is just a feeling, it is an emotion. Motivation is not necessary to fulfilling your goals or mission. Discipline is.
Some days I feel incredibly motivated, but it might help you to know that most days I simply do not feel motivated. So what? Motivation is nice, but its not necessary.
If we only move when we are motivated, we will not overcome.
It isn’t necessary to continually feel motivated once you’ve decided. We had great inspiration with the call to Africa, some mornings I’m not feeling it, doesn’t matter, we already felt it, we already embraced it, we already decided, now we just have to get it done whether we feel like it or not.
If you wait for motivation… you will be sporadic and only move things forward when you are persistent.
You will have bursts of inspiration and even motivation from the Holy Spirit, but discipline (discipleship is instruction in discipline) keeps you moving when you don’t feel like it… and often are the times when you don’t feel like it.
The difference between someone who achieves goals and ultimately accomplishes mission after mission is the one who is persistent.
#3 Perfection and Procrastination Lead to a Failed Mission
Yes, you need to be organized… No, you cannot organize everything, everyday, before you start, or you will never start.
We have a lot of mechanisms to keep us from starting, from doing, from taking action. Have you ever done the equivalent of organizing the pencils in your pencil cup before jumping into a critical task. Of course you have.
Recognize the excuses and then unmercifully kill them.
Perfectionism IS simply procrastination all dressed up.
You don’t deliver because you keep trying to make it perfect, but the reason you keep trying to make it perfect is because you are proud and scared.
Humble yourself and let the imperfect perfect itself through practicing persistent action.
#4 Start with the Hardest Thing On Your List… Every Day
Think about that one phone call you don’t want to make, that necessary confrontation. What is the biggest obstacle you are facing right now and what do you need to do about it. Hit “pause” right now, and do it. Take it on. Face it.
Let your hands tremble, let your heart race. Your mission is too important to sacrifice over your pride and fear. We ALL feel it (well, at least I do).
I remember when my daughter Kelly was about 5 years old. She took swimming lessons. I can still see the tiny little girl standing on the side of the pool with her instructors arms stretched out coaxing her to jump in. She would say, “Okay, here I go.” “Wait!” “Okay, just a second.” “Okay, I am jumping.”
As a still pretty new dad standing on the other side of the pool I worried what would become of her in life. She was too afraid to jump in a swimming pool. She finally steeled herself, held her nose, and stepped off the side.
I remember taking on the high diving board at the Princeton pool when I was 8 or 9. I wanted to go back down the ladder, but I made myself step off the end.
She grew up to be one of the boldest people I know, but I know that she is still scared before she jumps, but she just jumps.
By “jump” I don’t mean be reckless, what I mean is keep jumping in.
Persistence will find a way. Persistence will learn what it needs to learn, grow what it needs to grow, acquire new skills as they are needed for success, and find a way to get done what everyone else is whining about as not possible.
Here’s the good news:
There may be others more talented than you are…
…smarter than you are…
…more educated than you will ever be…
…better looking than you are…
…more personable than you are…
…more gifted than you are…
…perhaps even more spiritual than you are…
but without persistence, those things will not accomplish the mission.
The prize goes to those who put their heads down and press forward.
“…But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”Philippians 3.13,14 ESV