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PERSEVERANCE

Definition of the word of the week (PERSEVERANCE): The holding to a course of action, belief, or purpose without giving way; steadfastness.

Zach, Nathan, and I recently undertook the task of gathering the leaves that covered their grandmother’s yard. It was not a small undertaking, in fact, it was kin to raking a small hardwood forest! We cranked up the blowers and put the rakes in motion and two hours later we were no closer to being through than when we started. We looked at one another and said at once, “This is ridiculous!” “We will never finish!” “I’m ready to go home!” “Can we burn the yard?” Totally discouraged, and on the verge of quitting, we pressed on. Our perseverance began to pay off and we began to see patches of green as Nana’s yard seemed to magically reappear. Two weeks later, we finished, put away our yard tools, and rejoiced that a dreaded and tedious task had been fulfilled. In the back of my mind I couldn’t help but think, “This will happen again next year and I will be here during my Christmas break raking leaves. It will go on forever!”

So many things in life are like our leaf gathering experience, they seem to go on forever and no matter how much effort we put in, or how dedicated we are, or how diligent we are, we never seem to make progress. If we do finish, we know we will have to start all over and do it again at some point in time. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Church in Phillipi, “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize.” Life requires that we not dwell on the past for if we do life becomes stagnant. Without perseverance very little is accomplished as we journey through life. The road is not always wide and smooth, our health is not always perfect, the sun does not always shine, relationships are not always as fulfilling as we would like them to be, but we press on toward the goal. Nothing is gained in life without perseverance and few things in life are accomplished without work. Christopher Reaves, who lived out the last years of his life as a quadriplegic following a horseback riding accident, said “I think a hero is an ordinary individual who finds strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.” Look around you this week and see those ordinary folks who continue to forge ahead in spite of tremendous burdens and obstacles. Be encouraged, if they can do it, so can you. If you are one of those folks, thank you for being a hero.

The following quotations are intended to assist in explaining and exemplifying the word of the week:

By perseverance, the snail reached the ark. Charles Spurgeon, Minister

Perseverance is a great element of success. If you only knock long enough and loud enough at the gate, you are sure to wake somebody. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Poet

The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is that one comes from a strong will, and the other from a strong won’t. Henry Ward Beecher, Writer

I do not think that there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature. John D. Rockefeller, Industrialist

Great works are performed not by strength, but by perseverance. Samuel Johnson, Author

LTC Scott Seagraves, GMC Prep School Faculty prepared this study guide as part of the institution’s character education program. Comments and suggestions from readers are welcome at 478-445-2710 or by email at pbeer@gmc.cc.ga.us.