Perseverance-Breakfast of Champions

When I see the word perseverance, I have many things that come to mind.  I think of the book “The little engine that could” and I think of many who have struggled against overwhelming odds to achieve goals that no one would have ever imagined.  All of these situations are great examples of the fact that you should never give up, never quit, even in a situation where there are overwhelming odds.

Another situation that comes to mind comes from the Bible.  This situation involves a young man, David, and a warrior for the Philistines, Goliath.  The Philistines were feared warriors and no army would fight them because of their secret weapon, Goliath, a giant of a man.  The Israelites were going to lay down their arms as well when David stepped forward and using some small, smooth stones, slew the giant and won the day for the Israelites.

Each one of us will have our day.  We will face an enormous challenge, a Goliath of  a challenge and we will have choices to make.  Will we stand up and persevere or will we lay down, give up and let our goals pass us by.

David was a most unlikely candidate to be the hero of the day.  He was not a warrior in the army and was young and slight of stature.  What he did possess was a strong will and the grace of God.  So too, each one of us can too possess the same if we only gird up our strength and stand tall in the face of adversity.

I have two personal stories to tell.  One story involved a time when I was very young when I gave up, laid down, and gave up a dream.  The other was a time when I was older, more mature and I chose to stand in the face of adversity to achieve a goal that most thought was not achievable.

I received an appointment to the United States Naval Academy when I was a senior in high school and as a result I was inducted into the academy on July 6, 1977 as a member of the class of 1981.  Our first two months were a period called Plebe Summer.  This was a time of change and challenge for all present.  I was a young man, barely 18 years of age and freshly out of high school.  I was physically prepared, but not mentally ready.  I chose to give up this dream because I now know that God had another path for me.  That was not apparent at the time, but I now know it is true.

In 1990 I was given another opportunity.  I was part of a small group of volunteers in a small community in Tennessee who were asked to investigate the feasibility of bringing a YMCA to our community.  From 1990 through 1994 we overcame every obstacle placed in front of us and we were granted a charter then.  I was presented with a choice to continue my life in manufacturing or choose a different path where I would lead the Y effort until construction was completed and then become the leader of the HR function for the YMCA of Middle Tennessee.  I chose the latter and it has changed my life forever.

Two opportunities, where one was taken and another was not.  Factors that played into the success of the latter versus the former included the following:

  • emotional maturity on my part
  • a strong group of supporters and allies
  • a clear vision of the future outcome
  • enthusiasm
  • prayer and encouragement

Each of you who read this will have your own stories.  You will reach critical points where you will have to “fish or cut bait”.  Consider the list of attributes listed above and find a way to incorporate each of them into your situation.

Your odds for success will greatly increase if you do.