Paul urges followers of Jesus Christ, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way to get the prize” (1 Corinthians 9:24 NIV). The prize is not heaven, the prize is a crown for those who discipline themselves to serve Christ and help people come to know Him.This is what every single believer is called to do, and it takes perseverance to do it in such a way as to win.
Here’s what we teach our kids in Velocity: Perseverance is refusing to give up even when life gets hard.Study after study has shown that probably the most important characteristic you could teach a child (and that you need in your own life) is resilience. It’s the ability to do the hard thing. It’s the ability to keep going. Nobody goes through life with an unbroken chain of successes. Everybody has failures and mistakes. We all embarrass ourselves. We all have pain. We all have problems. We all have pressures. But the people who make it in life have persevered.
You know that your biggest regrets in life can be traced back to your lack of perseverance (or something you’ve given up on). You quit the high school basketball team. You dropped out of college. You gave up on a marriage.
So for the rest of your life, where do you get the resilience to keep going? Faith. It’s believing God could do something any moment that could change the direction of your life, and you don’t want to miss it, so you keep moving forward. It’s believing that God will give you exactly what you need when you need it as you learn to rely on Him to accomplish His purpose in you. Perseverance is a very important character trait to have for you to be successful in life. It means determining to work hard regardless of any odds or obstacles that may exist. It is to insist and be firm about getting something done and not giving up.
Perseverance is staying power. Perseverance involves a choice. So how do I develop it, and what are the benefits of choosing to persevereall the way to the finish line?
The analogy of a race is all throughout the Bible.
The writer of Hebrews says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses . . .”
Run with people. You were not made to do life alone. As a matter of fact, it is dangerous. If anyone should have quit, it was David. He was anointed by Samuel for God, yet it was years before it came about. He had a contract on his life. Two of his sons died at a young age. He had a son who raped his sister. He had a son who rebelled against him. David had a challenging family. David had a difficult life.
Yet he said, “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.” Psalm 37:25
Do you know why we quit? We feel forsaken. David made it because he ran with people who knew God and would speak to Him. It’s the way we are able to hang tough. If you didn’t take the step of getting into a small group for this series, you have robbed yourself of an incredible opportunity. Don’t rob yourself of the next one.
Run with passion. Passion is what energizes life. It turns the impossible into possible. In fact, if you don’t have any passion in your life, ministry will become boring, dull, routine, and monotonous. I’ll go so far as to say that if you don’t have passion in your life, you are not living. Nothing great is ever accomplished in life without passion; nothing great is ever sustained in life without passion. Passion is what takes a good athlete and turns him or her into a great athlete who breaks records.
Passion is what energizes life. Passion makes the impossible possible. God created you with the emotions to have passion in your life. He wants you to live a passionate life. You might be thinking, “I’m not really passionate about anything right now.” That means you are disconnected from God. God gave you a heart, and He has placed in you passions, desires, and dreams. But unless they are under His control, they will be misused, abused, misapplied, misdirected, and wasted.
Run with purpose. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Hebrews 12:1 NIV
God created you for a purpose. Psalm 139:16 says, “All the days for me are ordained.” Ephesians reminds us that we are created in Christ Jesus to do good works that He has prepared for us in advance. You see, God’s purpose is greater than your problems and your pain. God has a plan! You need to look past the temporary pain and look instead at the long-term benefit in your life.
Paul said, “So I run with purpose in every step” (1 Corinthians 9:26 NLT). The purpose is not to participate, the purpose is to win! That means you have to stay in the race. It means you finish the race. Some of you are facing a major difficulty right now. It may be an illness or guilt or a financial problem or strain in a relationship. Does God have a word for you while you’re going through your difficulty? Absolutely.God is saying to you, “Don’t give up, grow up.”Fulfill the purpose of your difficulty—becoming more and more like the person He created you to be.
Too many of us run from our problems and our pain. Maybe you need to run with purpose toward it. It will grow you and mature you.
“Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:4
Run with perspective. “. . . fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:2-3 NIV
People who run with perseverance fix their eyes on Jesus. He is the supreme model of perseverance, and the one who gives ultimate motivation and perspective. Perspective is understanding something because you see it from a larger frame of reference.It is the ability to perceive how things are interrelated and then judge their comparative importance.And for believers it means seeing life from God's point of view.Moses had that perspective: “By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.” Hebrews 11:24-25
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Galatians 6:9-10 NIV
“I’ll try to do my best” is something all of us have said at one time or another. What we are actually saying is this: I will try but I won’t take responsibility for the outcome. Trying alone does not communicate true commitment. It’s half hearted. It is not persevering. It is not a pledge to do what is necessary to achieve a goal. Trying rarely achieves anything significant. But when you and I commit to persevere, it unleashes tremendous power.
There is a force resisting the right things in the world and in our lives. Too many of us are giving in to it. We need to run with a perseverance that will break through that resisting force. The world needs us!It needs for us to live our stories and contribute to the greater story of God that is happening all around us.I hope you will run with faith, purpose, commitment, sacrifice, generosity, and, ultimately, with perseverance.
Begin to write a story of significance or increase your story of significance. Hear me on this: From the moment you start to run, it will have a positive lasting effect on you. It will change you. The number-one catalyst for change is action. Running with perseverance will change you.
- You will reaffirm your values. Acting on what you value will clarify your values and make them a permanent priority in your life .
- You will find your voice. It will give you confidence to speak and live out what you believe in front of others.
- You will develop your character. Passive people allow their character to be influenced by others. Active people struggle to form and maintain their character.
- You will experience fulfillment. Fulfillment is found when your actions align with who you are.
- It will bring others into your story. When you move toward God’s story for you, resources begin to move toward you.
- It will increase your appetite for more significance. Once you experience God using you to bring about hope and healing,you won’t be satisfied with anything else.
- It will outlive you. It will be your legacy.
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58
I want to make a difference doing something that makes a difference, with people who make a difference at a time that makes a difference. But I want you to know something. My story is not more important than anyone else’s, including yours. I believe that every person has great value. Every person matters.
I believe in you.I believe in your potential for personal transformation. I want you to have the ability to make an impact in the world. Your story, like mine, won’t be perfect. Everyone’s story includes wins and losses, good days and bad, highs and lows, surprises and uncertainties.That’s life. This isn’t about creating or even wishing for a perfect life. It’s about wanting a better life for yourself.
I’ve been an observer of people most of my life. I’ve noticed that most people are pretty passive about their lives. An indication of this is that when asked to describe significant regrets in their lives, eight out of ten people focus on actions they did NOT take rather than actions they did.In other words, they focus on things they failed TO DO rather than things they failed AT doing. That will be true of you, too. Be aggressive with your life. RUN to win. RUN with perseverance.
Your life will take on a whole different dimension if you do. I know because I have experienced it. I want you to experience it, too.