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
Perseverance is nothing more than the ongoing practice of patience and continued effort in pursuit of a promise or desired end result. We have clear direction for developing patience: My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. (James 1:2-5) That’s a pretty amazing promise.
If we would have the strength to persevere we must cultivate a willing patience—not the whiny, complaining exasperation of someone stuck in a situation against his will! The success formula can be summed up in two words – let and knowing. You see, patience is NOT simply “waiting it out” or tolerating a bad situation until it ends. It’s the conscious decision to let a process unfold, knowing it will produce a promised outcome. It is the powerful combination of joyfully leaning into a trial (attitude) and confidently anticipating a desired outcome (faith.) A woman can willingly let herself go through nine months of discomfort knowing that the she will experience the joy of a having a baby. You can let problems come as they may, knowing that God loves you and has promised to work all things together for your good because you love Him and are called according to His purposes.
Now let’s apply this formula to a tough work situation. It’s certainly not uncommon for things to take far longer than we think they should. People get in the way or drop the ball. Budget decisions don’t go as hoped. You get the idea. What’s called for when some goal appears to move out of reach? How are you going to handle it when there’s no sign of progress towards that end result you are pursuing? Apply the let-knowing formula.
First and most important, let joy come up from your spirit and get happy. Whining as you go through a struggle, gathering the sympathy of others, behaving like a martyr, begrudgingly tolerating a situation until it finally ends, railing at God for being unfair, and various forms of kicking and screaming do not qualify as faith actions, nor will these behaviors produce patience or empower perseverance!
Next find a promise that you can use as your faith anchor. Get God’s heart on the matter. You can only be intentionally long-suffering and patient when you are absolutely convinced that God is in the waiting room with you. Knowing the promised outcome (in the character of God, confirmed by His word, and affirmed by multiple witnesses) is as good as holding an actual title deed. And yes, God is in the workplace with you and He is vitally interested in partnering with you to get excellent results. That’s how He gets glory, remember? When you have God’s word on something you can set your course and stand in faith. Without this, all you have is wishful thinking.
And, of course, do everything within your control to move towards the desire result. Don’t forget: For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. (James 2:26) Probably the most important action you can take while you’re waiting is to praise God for His faithfulness and perseverance with you and give Him thanks for what’s to come. Let no words of doubt or discouragement come out of your mouth.
When you willingly stay the course, you will find the time of waiting has stretched and strengthened your faith. It turns out that practicing patience in the absence of any evidence of progress—for weeks and months on end—is the only work-out that builds faith muscle. That gives you increased perseverance for the next challenge—which is sure to come.
There’s nothing automatic, accidental or beyond your control when it comes to persevering. Were it not for God’s intentional patience with us—His decision to let mankind exercise free will in good and bad choices—we would not be on the planet today! Now it’s your turn. Stand in the problem, holding onto your promise and watch for God’s provision and support. Keep the faith!
How will you know if you are demonstrating this success factor? You will be someone who:
- Doesn’t give up before finishing the assignment
- Continues in the face of resistance and setbacks
- Overcomes obstacles with energy, drive, and optimism rooted in faith.
The Secret: Stop thinking about what you have to endure and the difficulty of the situation. Focus on how God is showing up in your life to support you and how your faith and Christlikeness is growing. Keep your eye on the prize!
“But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1:4.