In order to be successful as an Olympic athlete. . .you must keep on keeping on.
In other words. . .you must be persistent in your daily routine everything from diet to exercise. . .to a constant vision of seeing yourself crossing the finish line in whatever category that might be … with your hands raised in victory.
Perseverance is in the New Testament 32 times and its most frequently translated as:
“patience; endurance; patient waiting”
The term literally means “remaining under” or standing firm despite opposition.
In life, we will face many challenges. . .and adversities.
Human nature will want you to rationalize that other people seem to have it easier than you. . .and in some cases, you may be right.
But the Bible says that joy is based not on an absence of difficulty but on discovering your gifts and using them for the benefit of the Kingdom of God.
Booker T. Washington said:
“Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome.”
Sir Winston Churchill once said:
“Persistence is what gives losers a winner’s edge. Persistence is what makes winners out of losers, what makes winners out of quitters.
Persist until you win. . .keep on keeping on.
Persistence is the key to success and victory.
Someone once said:
“A little more persistence, a little more effort, and what seemed hopeless failure may turn to glorious success.”
Napoleon Hill said:
“The most interesting thing about a postage stamp is the persistence with which it sticks to its job.”
What does the Word of God say about persistence?
Revelation 2:2 in the Message Bible says:
"I see what you've done, your hard, hard work, your refusal to quit. I know you can't stomach evil, that you weed out apostolic pretenders. I know your persistence, your courage in my cause that you never wear out.”
This is the message that the angel of the church of Ephesus was to take to them.
That’s the way I want to be remembered. . . that by hard work in fulfilling the vision that God has given me to get the Body of Christ out of debt. . .by a refusal to give up until every believer is walking in financial freedom. . .by an intolerance for the evil of debt and those who would ensnare God’s children with the bondage of debt and a commitment to be like the Energizer Bunny which keeps going and going until the mission is complete.
Before we get to the seven keys for persistence, let’s look at four things the enemy will use to keep you from keeping on.
There are actually nine threats to your persistence which are found in Hebrews 12:1-17. I’m only going to cover four of them . . .because that’s what I feel led to do. Perhaps, we’ll consider the other five on one of our daily Rich Thoughts For Breakfast conference calls.
# 1 Unconquered sins.
Hebrews 12:1 in the Classic Amplified Bible says;
“Therefore then, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who have borne testimony to the Truth], let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us.
In the scripture. . .please pay particular attention to the phrase that I’ve underlined and highlighted in yellow.
Let us “. . .throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us.”
We need to identify the sin or the things that are hindering us.
Do you think the runners in the current Olympic games are underdressed? Would it surprise you to know that the Ancient Greek runners raced practically naked, with every weight discarded. . .so they could run the race as unencumbered as humanly possible?
Each of us needs to identify the unconquered and seemingly insignificant areas of our lives that will undermine our perseverance and keep us from keeping on.
2. Undefined goals and purposes.
Hebrews 12:1 concludes by saying:
“. . . and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us.”
Forrest Gump didn’t understand the importance of a goal line to begin with. . .he just liked to run.
You will notice that every runner in the Olympic games has a goal. . .a destination for celebration.
What sort of goals should we aim for?
Some people give up on goal setting before they even get started.
Over the years, I’ve had countless people say to me:
“Brother Harold, I don’t really know what kind of goals I should have.”
Let’s make it easy. . .your first seven goals are all found in the scripture. Focus on these goals and everything else will fall into place.
First, becoming like Jesus in character and life-style.
Second, develop the fruit of the Spirit and seeking out the gifts of the Spirit.
Third, live a life that glorifies God in everything we do.
Fourth, work and provide for our families.
Fifth, be a good husband, wife or child.
Sixth, maintain a godly character in an ungodly society.
Seventh, give your tithes and then add offerings as directed by the Word and the Holy Spirit.
In order to hit these milestones. . .we must have goals to measure our progress and to keep on keeping on.
# 3 Deadly distractions.
Hebrews 12:2 in the Classic Amplified Bible says:
“Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. . .”
Jesus is our role model. We should never judge or compare ourselves to anyone else but Him.
We are to have eyes for no one and nothing else. . .but Jesus.
Philippians 3:14 in the King James Bible says:
“I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
By keeping his focus on Jesus and the finish line of his life. . .Paul was able to avoid distractions. . .endure trials. . .and accomplish what God called him to do.
What are the deadly distractions that keep us from pressing toward the mark with perfection?
Here are some of the deadly distractions satan puts in your path.
The love of pleasure, the lust of the flesh, the cares of life, over indulgence, deceitfulness of riches, double mindedness, murmuring, bitterness, resentment, jealousy and laziness. . .just to name a few.
But God always gives us a way of escape. I Corinthians 10:13 New International Versions says:
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
4. Losing motivation.
One of the best ways to keep on keeping on. . .is to remind yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing.
Hebrews 12:2 in the Classic Amplified Bible concludes by saying:
“. . . He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
For the joy set before. . .He endured the cross.
Jesus endured the cross. . .the humiliation. . .the pain. . .the suffering. . .the death because He knew what the cross would accomplish for all mankind for all ages to come.
He saw beyond the suffering. . .beyond the death. . .because He knew He was taking satan out. . .once and for all… to make way for you … and for me to be in with our heavenly Father.
Christ saw beyond the cross to a victorious, successful, prosperous, dynamic second coming. . .to reign with the saints forever.
He knew that soon He would be sitting at the right hand of the Father. . .making intercession for the saints. . .also known, as His brothers and sisters.
We must look beyond our own suffering and pain to see how our lives affect those around us whom we love.
We must understand that every decision we make motivates someone close to us one way or the other. For good or for evil. Think about it.
I need to stop here. . .but if you continue reading Hebrews 12:1-17 you will find all nine obstacles. . .things that will try to keep us from keeping on.
What does it take to be persistent. . .to keep on keeping on?
Let’s look at the seven keys.
1. Believe in what you’re doing.
First and foremost, you must believe in what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.
If you understand your God-given purpose then self-belief and self-motivation are much easier.
There may be times when you’re out in front of the pack or everybody else. . .and if you understand your purpose, then you’ll never look in the rearview mirror.
Acts 13:41 in the New Living Translation says:
“‘Look, you mockers, be amazed and die! For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn’t believe even if someone told you about it.’”
There may be times when you feel all alone while pursuing your dreams with persistence. Just remember, once you give your heart to Jesus you’ll never be alone again.
Not only that, He’ll help you figure out what to do and where to go next.
Isaiah 48:17 in the Message Bible says:
“I am God, your God, who teaches you how to live right and well. I show you what to do, where to go.”
2. Know you have the ability to succeed.
This second key of persistence is found amply explained in two scriptures.
Matthew 17:20 in the Amplified Bible says:
“He said to them, Because of the littleness of your faith [that is, your lack of firmly relying trust]. For truly I say to you, if you have faith [that is living] like a grain of mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, Move from here to yonder place, and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.”
“. . .Nothing will be impossible to you.”
Personalize that. “Nothing will be impossible to Harold Herring.”
Mark 9:23 in the New International Reader’s Version says:
" 'If you can'?" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for the one who believes."
If we know those two scriptures … no one can say it’s impossible to succeed.
3. Keep your faith focused on your goal.
Two important things about our faith:
First, no doubting.
Matthew 21:21 in the New Living Translation says:
“Then Jesus told them, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can even say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen.”
Second, do not underestimate the importance that exercising your faith in the pursuit of your goals or the things God has called you to accomplish.
2 Thessalonians 1:11 in the New Living Translation says:
“So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do.”
From this scripture it’s clear to me that there will be challenges along the way but we’re to keep the faith. . .keep praying. . .both of which allow us to be focused on our objective.
4. Never look at the wind and the waves, i.e., the circumstances.
When we take our eyes off our goal and begin to look at our circumstances we’ll end up in deep water.
Matthew 14:28-30 in Amplified Bible says:
“And Peter answered Him, Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water. He said, Come! So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water, and he came toward Jesus. But when he perceived and felt the strong wind, he was frightened, and as he began to sink, he cried out, Lord, save me [from death]!”
Everything was good with Peter as long as he kept his eyes on Jesus (the Word) but when he began to focus on his surroundings instead of the prize. . .he began to sink.
Just FYI, Peter had walked out on the water for a ways before he took his eyes off Jesus otherwise he could have just grabbed the side of the boat.
5. Realize that “no” doesn’t just mean “no” it often means “know.”
On your journey there will be times when people tell you “no” simply because they don’t “know” all the facts or else they would make a decision in your favor.
There is a good friend of ours who at one point complained about the 27% interest rate on her credit card. . .I told her to call her credit card company and ask them to reduce the rate. I suggested she write down the name of the person she spoke with and ask to talk with a supervisor. I suggested she keep calling until she could find someone who could say ‘yes’ to her.
When MeLisa was over to our house about six weeks later, she told me she now had a 9% interest rate.
Just as I was saying “Praise the Lord,” she added, “And it only took 46 phone calls.”
I was so blown away and blessed by her persistence . . .but there’s a message in this. . . persistence produces results. Going from an interest rate of 27% down to 9% is huge . . . but not impossible!
Here’s the difference her persistence made for her.
With a $5,000 balance at 27% interest with a 3% minimum payment. . .it would have taken her 423 months (35 years and 3 months) to pay off this credit card. She would have paid $14,289.66 in interest alone.
With a $5,000 balance at 9% interest with a 3% minimum payment. . .it would take her 158 months (13 years and 2 months) to pay off the card. She would end up paying $1,607.35 in interest.
That’s a difference 22 years and 1 month in payments for a total savings in interest of $12.682.31. Plus, if she adds more to the 3% payment. . . well, you get the idea.
6. Encourage yourself.
There are going to be times when you will need to encourage yourself because no one else is around to do it.
1 Samuel 30:6 says:
“And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.”
The best way to encourage yourself is to recall all that God has done for you in the past. I can tell you from personal experience that this re-ignites your passion and determination for success.
You need to develop a “Did I Ever Tell You About The Time?” speech. When the enemy attacks you can say something like:
“Did I ever tell you about the time when I was a sinner going to hell and Jesus reached down, picked me up and planted my feet on the solid rock?
“Did I ever tell you about the time I lost my job and He provided a better job for me?
“Did I ever tell you about the time when there was no food in our house and Jesus had someone bring food to my door?
“Did I ever tell you about the time when my son/my daughter was hooked on drugs and God set them free?
“Did I ever tell you about the time when I was driving down the Interstate highway when my angel moved my car over to keep me from being in a head-on accident?
“Did I ever tell you about the time when the doctor gave me a bad report but Jesus healed my body?
“Did I ever tell you how good my God is to me?”
I strongly encourage you to develop and personalize a “Did I Ever Tell You?” confession.
7. Never Give Up or Give In.
When you feel like giving up. . .don’t.
The attack may be intense. . .the adversity more than you can seemingly bare but never give up.
Here’s what I know to be true. Luke 18:1 in the New Living Translation says that we’re to never give up. . . but rather pray about the next step we should take.
“[Parable of the Persistent Widow] One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up”
A winner persists even in the face of defeat.
One of my favorite Olympic stores is that of a Tanzanian runner John Stephen Ahkwari who finished last in the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. However, 42 years later, he is almost as well known as Mamo Wolde, from Ethiopia who won the race.
During the race Stephen fell several times and sustained noticeable injuries with blood dripping down his leg. In fact, there was an ambulance that followed him as he was finishing the race.
Doctors begged him to stop but he wouldn’t. He continually refused their offers of assistance and kept running through the streets of Mexico City.
As Stephen entered the Olympic Stadium for that final lap. . .the audience stood and cheered louder and more passionately than they did for Mamo who had crossed the finish line one and a half hours earlier.
Stephen limped across the finish line practically carrying his bloody and bandaged leg. When he was asked why he continued the race in the face of painful injuries Stephen said:
“My country did not send me 5,000 miles to start a race; they sent me to finish it.”
I will always remember the quote by Adlai E. Stevenson, a two-time nominee for US President, who said:
“On the plains of hesitation lie the blackened bones of countless millions who at the dawn of victory lay down to rest, and in resting, died.”
Persistence and obedience are keys to success in life.
One final thought; your victory may be just around the bend or over the next hill so persist until you cross the finish line.
Dale Carnegie, the author of How To Win Friends and Influence People, said:
“Flaming enthusiasm, backed up by horse sense and persistence, is the quality that most frequently makes for success.”
However, my favorite quote on persistence comes from President Calvin Coolidge
“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.”
There may be times in your life when you feel like you’re only driving 5 miles per hour. . .but here’s the good news. . .through persistence you will reach your destination.BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS