Competing in the Race of Life (Part III): Perseverance

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In this third article of the series on Life as a race and how we are all competing in it the concentration is on the perseverance required for successfully participating in it. Perseverance or endurance is a necessity for accomplishing most important tasks and for succeeding in life in general. It is therefore crucial that every person develops and maintains the capacity to persevere under various circumstances and situations of life. How? We examine in brief below. The second article of the series on the key requirements for competing and winning in the race of life observed the following points:

The number one requirement for success and fulfillment in any endeavor of life is faith coupled with commitment. Faith is confidence and hope that something will be done in spite of outward contrary signs. John Macquarie argues that we all exercise faith of some sort in all sorts of ways. The scientist has faith in his scientific work. The humanist has faith in himself. When you sign a contract, deposit money with a bank, marry or board a plane or ride a car you are certainly acting in faith. The Bible defines faith as “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (RSV). Faith then is the confident inner assurance that what one desires or is working towards will be accomplished. This confidence can be placed in oneself (one’s intelligence, knowledge, experience, connections, and possessions), family, an ideology, an institution, or in another person.

From the Christian perspective faith is in God Almighty who is the greatest and excellent of all beings. He has perfectly manifested himself in Jesus Christ who alone brings God down to our human level, within the reach of every person. But trust in God must issue into commitment and practical actions and deeds. Faith energizes and empowers for true work or service. Christian faith is cooperation with God. This means living and working hard in dependence upon God.

Commitment takes the form of discipline to think and do what is required. In the case of the ancient Greek Olympics the main requirements were that one had to train for ten unbroken years and resolve not to resort to tricks as means of winning. Running in the race of life requires integrity (being honest and possessing strong moral principles at all times, wholeness, steadfastness in adhering to high principles or professional standards). Competing in the race of life with the view of winning requires faith, hard work, honesty, and doing whatever it takes (within moral conscience) to achieve and fulfill what God desires.

The requirements of faith, commitment, hard work, and integrity must be undergirded by the virtue of perseverance or endurance. What then is perseverance or endurance? The Encarta Dictionaries define perseverance as “steadfast and continued action or belief, usually over a long period and especially despite difficulties or setbacks”. The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary defines perseverance like this: “the quality of continuing to try to achieve a particular aim despite difficulties”. In other words perseverance is the ability to hold on, keep on trying until success is won or the end of something. It is the quality not to give up against the odds and seeming setbacks.

The writer of the book of Hebrews in the New Testament encourages Christians thus: “Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith” (12:1-2). Serious training for any race is significant but is useless without endurance before difficulties. It is very easy to start many things in life but quite difficult to see them to the end. Staying power is required, and is what many lack and only a few possess. It is one thing to start and quite another to finish or persevere to the end. Often in life the difference between those who succeed and those who fail is perseverance; those who have it and those who lack it.

Every human being will meet up with challenges and difficulties in spite of good intentions and earnest and honest efforts. There are enemies of progress within and without, far and near. There is always someone somewhere who does not want us to succeed in anything. The answer is to endure and persist until goals and objectives are achieved. To run and win in the race of life is to have plenty of perseverance or tenacity.

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