Perseverance is defined as the steady persistence in a course of action, especially in spite of obstacles, difficulties, and discouragement.
But more than just a determination to press forward, perseverance has been a required characteristic of successful men and women throughout history.
It is perhaps the most significant common thread among those considered to be the greatest leaders of all time.
When discussing his frustration over his initial inability to develop the theory of relativity, Albert Einstein said,
“I thought and thought for months and years. Ninety-nine times, the conclusion was wrong, the hundredth time, I was right.”
In a similar fashion, in the years leading to the successful invention of the light bulb, Thomas Edison described his secret to success when he explained,
“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”
Stephen Spielberg, perhaps the most accomplished director in the history of the arts, was rejected by the University of Southern California School of Theater, Film and Television—not once—but three times. Although he started school elsewhere, he dropped out before finishing in order to become a director.
Thirty-five years later, he returned to school to complete his work and earn his BA. He didn’t have to—he wanted to because it was unfinished business. It didn’t matter to anyone else—but it mattered to him.
J.K. Rowling, the world-famous author of the Harry Potter novels, was nearly penniless, living on her own and raising a child while attending school and writing. When others told her to get serious and stop frivolously wasting time on the foolishness of writing, she persevered with hard work and determination. The result was the difference between welfare and extreme wealth in a span of five years.
Michael Jordan, the name known throughout the world, didn’t start out on top, nor was he consistently successful. In fact, during high school he was even cut from the school’s basketball team. Instead of allowing that to discourage him, he pressed on to become one of the greatest basketball players of all time.
When asked to reveal his key to success, Michael simply stated,
“I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
Even Oprah Winfrey, one of the most well-known entrepreneur, talk show host, philanthropist, success stories in history came from an abusive childhood. To add insult to injury, she was fired as a reporter because she was unfit for TV.
In every case, the difference between incredible success and utter failure in the face of reason, logic, and insurmountable odds was perseverance.
Strangely, even though we see it in others, when it comes to our walk with God, we often back away when the going get’s tough. We want to succeed, but instead of persevering in the face of trials and roadblocks, we divert to an unplanned detour that doesn’t take us where we needed to go.
One reason for this phenomenon is an inherent fault in our thinking. We have been taught erroneously that if God want us to do something, He will pave the way. In other words, if there are roadblocks, God can’t be in it. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Satan will use anything and everything to convince us we are on the wrong path, when in fact; it is the path upon which God has placed us. If we believe that the absence of problems or obstacles in our lives is an indicator we are on the right path, then Paul, John the Baptist, and Jesus, were all on shaky ground.
Perseverance is not a dirty word—it’s a Godly word, with Godly principles and Godly promises all over it.
James 1:25 says it best,
But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
May you persevere in the midst of tragedy, fatigue, pain, illness, poverty, sorrow, loss, failure and suffering. You don’t have to—if you don’t want to succeed.
The choice is yours.