You’ve probably heard this saying, “It pays to persist.” I would agree, but also add two conditions to make this completely true: 1)If done in the right way; 2)If done for the right reasons.
Let’s first look at why many things require persistence in order to achieve the necessary result(s):
1. The time involved—if we give up too soon, it either won’t happen, or won’t get done all the way. For example, we need to “persist” in cooking our food—if we take it out of the oven too soon, it will be too raw!
2. The total amount of effort needed— same as the above—if we give up before we’ve done all we need to, we might as well have not started, because we won’t finish! For example—If we start running a race but give up along the way, we’ll never reach the finish line.
I get this—I used to run track in college, and both our sons ran track/cross-country in school. Even the last-place runner got cheered as they crossed the finish line—maybe even a bit more so, because we all felt the physical and emotional stamina it took to endure the pain of persevering to the end! But if they’d given up they wouldn’t have finished or received those cheers.
3. The opposition that has to be overcome— obstacles, circumstances, other people’s “pushback”. This all makes it harder to persist, yet all the more necessary to give it that extra “umph” in order to make things happen!
For example, what if the race involves hurdles? (Really? Isn’t running hard enough without putting those things in there?!) Or, we’re trying to get somewhere and encounter road construction, detours, etc.—if we really want to get there, we’ll keep going and find a way to get there!
This reminds me of our son’s wedding last year—for us, it was a 9-hour drive (normally). It took longer because of some obstacles, but there was no way we were going to stop or turn around and give up—our son was getting married and we were going to be there!
Some of our immediate family had to overcome even greater obstacles—their flight got cancelled from 1000 miles away—the day before the wedding! But they persisted—insisted on being put on standby for early the next morning; got up and to the airport in the middle of the night; kept going to the airline ticket desk and asking; grandma patiently but persistently explained why she needed to get on that plane… and they got 5 of the 7 seats left when there were supposedly “none left”!
If it matters, we’ll persist—we’ll take the time, we’ll make the effort, and we’ll overcome the obstacles. As they say in athletics, the key is, “How much do you want it?!”
And here’s where the two conditions come in, if we’re going to make our persistence really pay off over the long-haul:
1. How are we persisting? Halfheartedly? Rudely? Bullying? None of these work— either we won’t achieve our goal, or we’ll achieve the wrong thing, and alienate others in the process! But done the right way, persistence works. Like the way our family got on that plane (who could refuse a sweet 89 year old grandma?).
Or, like last month—I had bought a grinder-mill to make my own flour due to Covid and resulting flour shortages. The motor burnt on the first try. After a bit of persistence, I got to talk with an actual person in customer service.
After some dialogue back and forth I convinced the rep. that it really broke on the first try, and they were willing to talk with the manager if I sent a video of it not working. Which I did– then had to deal with another rep. by email. And make another video. Four reps., many emails, a replacement that broke right away too(!), two more videos, and more emails later, the company agreed to refund the price of the product to me! (They also said I didn’t need to return either grinder, since they were broken!)
2. Why are we persisting? To get to a loved one’s wedding? To legitimately undo a big financial loss? To help someone in need? To preserve or restore a relationship? To survive? Other right reasons? If so, the Lord honors that, and will reward our persistence (done the right way).
The parable of the persistent widow illustrates this–Jesus told it to show people how and why to persist:
He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’
“For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice…” Luke 18:1-5
In other words—if a bad guy who doesn’t care about anyone rewards persistence just to get someone “off their back”, how much more will the good Lord reward it, done the right way, for the right reason(s)?!
Just make sure our methods and motives are right. Then, it pays to persist 🙂