Do you have what it takes?
That seems to be a common question I hear today. It can relate to entering a college, going for a new job or a promotion, taking part in a race or any other type of competition, sitting for an exam, and a host of other choices. The question can cause me to wince inside and question myself even if I am adequately prepared. What is the question really asking me anyway?
The truth is that it can potentially relate to a broad spectrum of answers. It doesn’t just mean whether or not you have had the training or possess the skills, but it has more to do with whether or not you have the will, drive, passion, energy, character, etc. to succeed at whatever the question relates to.
In the end, the measure of my character may have more to do with whether or not I succeed than anything else.
One of the key elements of my character that comes into play is whether I will persevere. If you look at synonyms for perseverance you come up with a powerful list of words. You will find words like persistence, tenacity, determination, steadfastness, commitment, and endurance to name just a few. What is the etymology of the word? It is taken directly from the Latin perseverare that translates “continue steadfastly, persist”.
I don’t think perseverance is something that is very popular today in this “hurry-up” culture where most of us don’t want to wait on anything or anyone. Perseverance implies we will potentially be doing something for quite some time. How much we wish that would not be the case!
More than a half dozen years ago I hired a personal trainer. I really do not like exercise and never played a sport as I was growing up. I needed to have someone who would hold me accountable and guide me in the process. I made the decision because I wanted to lose some weight of course, but also because I realized as I am getting older that my flexibility and endurance were diminishing. The fact that my workplace had a gym as part of its facilities on site and the personal trainer lived three minutes away made it all easier to comply. Did I enjoy it? I enjoyed the person who was the personal trainer, but certainly not what she asked and then pushed me to do. It was very evident to get endurance I would need to persevere or endure!
No matter what age or season of life, perseverance is needed to achieve (or keep) anything we want to accomplish or have already gained. I see that when I watch my two oldest grandchildren dig into their study schedule at the end of a college semester when they feel like they can’t take it any more. I see it with the person who has a job that she doesn’t prefer and needs to still go to work each day.
Beyond all that, it is a requirement for our spiritual lives. The Bible has more than a few places where the words endure or endurance shows up. One of my favorite passages is found in Hebrews 12:1-2:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Developing perseverance is absolutely essential not only for our success, but also oftentimes for our survival. Satan is very persistent. Add to that the challenges of living in a fallen world and you have the right recipe that points to our need to endure and persevere.
I could likely offer a list of how perseverance is developed, but I think Paul says it best in Romans 5: 1-5 (ESV):
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
Through the various Bible passages that speak of perseverance and endurance I see a great deal of evidence that points to the Lord’s admonition that we are to endure. One of them is in Matthew 24:13 (KJV): “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” The verse comes in the midst of Jesus speaking of the end times.
So how do I answer my opening question? The truth is that I don’t have it. But He does and since He calls me to have it and I am His daughter I know that He will equip me and bring what is needed for my good and His glory. His Word promises that in the passages I cited as well as many others.
What a relief to know that as I yield to Him each day, I (through Him) will have what it takes.