A monthly column by Vivienne Solomons who is a legal consultant who passionately believes that God wants His people to make a difference right where they are and to stand up for what is true and just. She is also passionate about encouraging young women to walk victoriously with God and she is engaged in a challenging faith journey as a parent of a child with special needs.
“Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did” — Newt Gingrich.
This is so true. Perseverance is a practice I am trying to encourage in my 10-year-old, particularly when it comes to his school homework. We’re in a phase at the moment where he questions the purpose of homework: “Why do we have to do it every day?”, “Mom, was there homework in the old days?” (old?) and my personal favourite, “Who’s crazy idea was it anyway?”.
Honestly, some days it can be such a struggle that I question it too. And I must confess, that is when I could so easily give him the answer he so desperately wants (but doesn’t have the patience to work through and obtain) so that he can get back to whatever it is he would rather be doing — and I can too. But this isn’t just about homework. If we choose the easy way out, the opportunity to press in and push through to the end will most certainly be lost. Not only that, I will have created a precedent for how future homework is to be approached. And sadly, everything else in life too.
For there is power in perseverance. The power I refer to here is not the ability or capacity to influence others to action but the ability or capacity to do something or to act in a particular way when we are faced with challenging circumstances. For my son, that challenge right now is homework. But for you and me, it will probably be something quite different. A difficult work situation. A bad patch in a relationship. Following a budget to decrease debt or sticking to a healthy diet for weight loss. Whatever it may be, there are often no shortcuts to our end goal, only small wins over an extended period of time.
This is what Michael Hyatt refers to as a “slow start” in his blog post, The Hidden Blessings in a Slow Start. According to Hyatt, a slow start affords us the time and testing that is required to build the right infrastructure for success. His argument is that without this slow start, our skills, resources and character would eventually come up short — to our detriment. He lists the following benefits (I am sure there are more) to a slow start, which, I have to say, does make the required push to see something through to the end that much more doable and worthwhile:
- It forces us to rise to the occasion, to make decisions and to give of our best;
- We find weaknesses we otherwise wouldn’t notice, that is the challenge of a slow start can help us identify areas which need improvement, whether they be in our home/workplace systems and processes, our relationships, or in our character;
- We discover resources we didn’t know we had. Hard times foster endurance and courage in ways that easy times don’t;
- We come up with unique solutions we wouldn’t otherwise have. Challenging circumstances maximise human creativity;
- It’s good for teamwork (which includes family) in that collaboration in response to a challenge is encouraged and we come to rely on one another in ways not required during the easy times;
- We forge new relationships outside the team as well, as we often need to rely on outside help to overcome obstacles — and return the favour when the time comes;
- It’s an opportunity to grow our leadership. Pushing through a slow start develops leadership skills in every facet of our lives, including self-leadership;
- We develop resilience. As we overcome the daily challenges in our lives, we become more and more able to withstand any challenge in the long term.
I am sure you will agree; not only do the benefits speak for themselves but the positive implications of a persevering attitude are far reaching — beyond ourselves and our “world” to our communities and the nation at large.