Success Through Perseverance
PERSEVERANCE has become a rare commodity in modern times. Many people believe that success has more to do with being in the right place at the right time than it does with perseverance. Who can blame them? The news media are saturated with advertising slogans that subliminally drive home the message that almost anything you want can be had with a minimum of effort and just a little more money. Newspapers churn out a steady stream of stories about overnight successes and whiz-kid entrepreneurs making millions right out of school.
Laments columnist Leonard Pitts: “In a society obsessed with perception, it looks too easy. . . . Looks like something anyone could do if he just understood the trick, had the ability, or intercepted the bolt of lightning from God.”
What Is Perseverance?
To persevere means to ‘hold firmly and steadily to some purpose, state, or undertaking despite obstacles or setbacks.’ It implies continuing resolutely in the face of adversity, being tenacious, not giving up. The Bible highlights the importance of this quality. For instance, God’s Word admonishes us: “Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom,” “keep on knocking, and it will be opened to you,” “persevere in prayer,” and “hold fast to what is fine.”—Matthew 6:33; Luke 11:9; Romans 12:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:21.
An important part of perseverance is coping with the inevitable setbacks. Proverbs 24:16 states: “The righteous one may fall even seven times, and he will certainly get up.” Rather than ‘folding up’ when encountering difficulty or failure, the persevering individual ‘gets up,’ ‘keeps on,’ and tries again.
Many, though, are unprepared for the difficulties and failures they may encounter. Never having developed the will to persevere, they give up easily. “Too many people react to a failure in a self-damaging way,” observes writer Morley Callaghan. “They indulge in self-pity, they blame everybody, they become bitter and . . . fold up.”
This is unfortunate. “We forget,” Pitts points out, “that there is a reason to go through ordeal, some value to be found in adversity.” What value is that? He concludes: “[One] learns that failure is not fatal, nor defeat eternal. One gains depth. One becomes ready.” The Bible puts it simply: “By every kind of toil there comes to be an advantage.”—Proverbs 14:23.
Of course, to get going again after a setback is not always easy. Sometimes we are faced with challenges that may appear to defy all our efforts to overcome them. Rather than getting closer, our goals may seem to be receding further and further into the background. We may feel overwhelmed, incapable, and may become discouraged, even depressed. (Proverbs 24:10) Yet, the Bible encourages us: “Let us not give up in doing what is fine, for in due season we shall reap if we do not tire out.”—Galatians 6:9.
What Can Help Us Persevere?
The first step for persevering in a chosen course is to set worthwhile and attainable goals. The apostle Paul certainly understood this. He told the Corinthians: “The way I am running is not uncertainly; the way I am directing my blows is so as not to be striking the air.” Paul knew that if he wanted his efforts to be successful, he would need clear goals, like a runner focusing his mind on crossing the finish line in a race. “Do you not know that the runners in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may attain it,” he exhorted them. (1 Corinthians 9:24, 26) How can we do this?
“The shrewd one considers his steps,” says Proverbs 14:15. It is wise to reevaluate our strategies in life from time to time, asking ourselves where we are heading and whether adjustments need to be made. It is vital to have clearly in mind what we want to accomplish and why. We will be less inclined to give up if we keep a vision of our ultimate destination firmly fixed in our mind. “As for your eyes, straight ahead they should look,” urges the inspired proverb, so that “all your own ways [may] be firmly established.”—Proverbs 4:25, 26.
Having identified your goals, the next step is to analyze how to go about reaching them. Jesus asked: “Who of you that wants to build a tower does not first sit down and calculate the expense?” (Luke 14:28) In harmony with this principle, a mental-health expert observed: “One of the things I’ve noticed about successful people is that they have a clear understanding of the relationship between cause and effect in their lives. Successful people understand that if they want something, they have to do all the necessary things to get it.” Having a clear understanding of all the necessary steps we need to take to achieve what we want will help keep us focused. It will also make it easier for us to regroup if we suffer a setback. Such analysis was the cornerstone of Orville and Wilbur Wright’s success.
Hence, when setbacks occur, do your best to view them in a positive light and as a learning experience. Analyze the situation, discern where you went wrong, and then correct the mistake or remedy the weakness. It helps to talk to others, since “by counsel plans themselves are firmly established.” (Proverbs 20:18) Naturally, with each effort, you develop more expertise and skill, ultimately contributing to your success.
A third essential aspect of perseverance is consistent action. The apostle Paul exhorts us: “To what extent we have made progress, let us go on walking orderly in this same routine.” (Philippians 3:16) As one educator put it, “moderation and consistency over time produce significant results.” This is well illustrated in the widely known Aesop fable about the tortoise and the hare. The tortoise won the race, even though he was much slower than the hare. Why? Because the tortoise had a steady, disciplined approach. He did not quit but chose a speed that he could realistically keep up, and then he stuck to it until he crossed the finish line. Since the organized, steady person makes consistent progress, he remains motivated and is thus less likely to quit or be knocked out of the race. Yes, “run in such a way” that you will attain your goal.
Choosing Worthwhile Goals
Of course, for perseverance to be of any value, we need to have worthwhile goals. Many people strive after things that do not bring happiness. But the Bible points out: “He who peers into the perfect law that belongs to freedom and who persists in it . . . will be happy in his doing it.” (James 1:25) Yes, studying to understand God’s law as set out in the Bible is a very worthwhile goal. Why? Essentially, it is because God’s law is based on his perfect, righteous standards. As the Creator, he knows what is best for his creatures. So if we persist in learning God’s instructions and applying them in our lives, such persistence will surely bring us happiness. “Trust in Jehovah with all your heart . . . In all your ways take notice of him, and he himself will make your paths straight,” promises Proverbs 3:5, 6.
Additionally, taking in knowledge of God and of Jesus “means everlasting life,” says Jesus. (John 17:3) Bible prophecy indicates that we are living in “the last days” of this system. (2 Timothy 3:1-5; Matthew 24:3-13) Soon God’s Kingdom, his righteous government, will assert its rule over earth’s inhabitants. (Daniel 2:44; Matthew 6:10) This government will usher in an unprecedented era of peace, prosperity, and well-being for all obedient mankind. (Psalm 37:10, 11; Revelation 21:4) “God is not partial,” says Acts 10:34. Yes, everyone is invited to enjoy the benefits!
The Bible is an ancient book full of wisdom and meaning. Understanding it takes time and effort. But with God’s help—and if we persist in seeking its knowledge—it will be an open book to us. (Proverbs 2:4, 5; James 1:5) Granted, applying what we learn may be a challenge. We may need to make adjustments in our thinking or habits. Well-meaning friends or family members may even oppose our study of the Bible. So persistence is essential. The apostle Paul reminds us that God will give everlasting life to those who show “endurance in work that is good.” (Romans 2:7) Jehovah’s Witnesses would be pleased to help you attain this goal.
Be assured that you will find success if you persevere in learning about God and his will and are persistent in applying what you learn.—Psalm 1:1-3.
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You will find success if you persevere in learning about God and his will
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