In this last installment of my four-part series on character, I want to talk today about endurance and perseverance.
Because we live in a culture of instant gratification, many of us do not know how to persevere when work gets hard. We do not even know how to persevere through boredom.
Think about it. The phone, the television, the laptop, the tablet, all of these things are always ready to end our struggle with boredom. For this reason, many of us are not trained to persevere through the real struggles of life. We have been so accustomed to having our way, that we expect everything else in life to be just as easy. However, life does not work that way. That is why we need perseverance.
What is Perseverance?
If integrity is the face of character, perseverance is the foundation. Perseverance is that quality of mind and spirit that does not quit. Some call it grit. Others call it gravitas. Whatever you name it, perseverance is a commitment to stay the course after embarking on a difficult enterprise. Perseverance means seeing the end goal and focusing on it like a laser beam as you tread through the murky waters to get there.
Founder of Tuskegee University, Booker T. Washington persevered through more than 20 years of hard work at the school before it became what it is today. After learning how to read, Abraham Lincoln persevered through hundreds of grueling hours of reading to teach himself law, and eventually became a dynamic lawyer, prior to running for president.
He who perseveres understands that the struggle is part of the process, because anything worth having in life—a good marriage, a strong abiding faith in Christ, and meaningful friendships—all require perseverance. There is no other way around it.
Persevering through a Difficult Job
Perhaps no place is more difficult to persevere in than in a difficult job. The source of trouble could be a demeaning boss, a dead-end job, or a toxic work environment. Maybe your job simply isn’t satisfying you- you can read about that in my post here. Many people actually do not quit their job at the first sign of trouble. Instead, they just give in. They stay and resign themselves to mediocrity. They do the bare minimum to get by and lose all their joy in the process. What’s wrong with that? I believe that this response leads to a victim mentality, which is very dangerous. It’s far better to confront the situation and seek to control the areas that are within your circle of influence.
Perseverance is the exact opposite of a victim mindset, and my aim in this article is not only to show you how to do that, but also how to thrive in the process.
Here are some tips to get you there.
1. Don’t struggle alone.
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Prov 17:17).
The first thing you must understand about perseverance is that none of us can do it alone. Even God himself said that it was not good for a man to be alone. That is because we were not created to be lone rangers. So, stop struggling alone (Gen 2:18).
The other day I saw a news story that said that 46% of Americans report being lonely. Some of the people who reported feeling lonely have the most beautiful lives on social media and yet they are lonely. I was shocked! I do not want that to be you. So, please, do not struggle alone. Find a friend you can trust and share your struggles with them. You will be surprised to learn that other people are dealing with the same problems that you have.
Four years ago, I went through several months of intense anxiety over work. I did not sleep well most nights. After God whom I prayed to regularly, my wife was the one who helped me through the dark times. I needed someone to talk to about the stress I felt, and she was there to help me make sense of things. God eventually set me free, and I am eternally grateful.
Find a friend and start leaning on them as you persevere through the challenges of work. Pride will tell you to keep things hidden inside. Humility, on the other hand, calls you to lay aside your ego and open up yourself to others. You will not regret it.
2. Discipline your body and the mind will follow
I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified (1 Cor 9:27)
Paul the apostle was the epitome of self-discipline. He had an insatiable zeal for getting the gospel to the ends of the earth. Yet, even with all that zeal, he still had to bring his body into subjection because he did not always “feel” like going out there and sharing the gospel. Desire alone will not get you across the finish line; you must put perseverance behind that desire and push it forward.
You will not always feel like doing that task at work that you committed to months ago, but you must discipline yourself to do it anyway. Perseverance is like a muscle. You can only build it one choice at a time, starting with little choices and building momentum to bigger ones.
So, endeavor to do one profitable task each day to build perseverance. It could be a creating a daily routine, getting to know one new person at work, or waking at the same time every morning. The key is to discipline your body on the days when you just do not feel like doing that task.
As you strengthen your perseverance in the small areas of life, you will be able to endure the more difficult trials that come your way.
3. Be resilient about what you can control
“The righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity” (Prov 24:16).
Even though you might have a ton of issues at work, there are still some things you can control. Focus on those things and be resilient about them.
For example, if your workload is too heavy, have a conversation with your boss about it. When you speak with your boss, though, do not just complain about how much work you have. Instead, do an analysis of how much time each task takes, and show him that by reducing your workload in some areas, you will be able to add more value to the company. If your boss is smart, he will listen. If he does not, that is a good indication that you might need to go persevere somewhere else.
Also, if you are in a job that does not pay enough to cover your bills each month, then find small ways to substitute your income. Better still, create a plan to gain more training and raise your market value over the next year. There are schools nowadays that will allow you to earn a certificate online.
After you have done all you can to salvage your situation, there is always the option of leaving to find a better job. Keep in mind, though, that leaving your job will not always solve all your problems. Sometimes the issue is not the work itself, but a character issue you need to deal with. If you do not have the grit to resolve difficult situations, then you might find yourself simply hopping from job to job, never satisfied wherever you go. That is not profitable in the end.
4. See the big picture and trust in the Lord
Finally, in order to persevere properly, you have to see the bigger picture. The Bible says that perseverance produces character and character produces hope. It goes on to say that hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit that he gave to us (Rom 5:4).
Whatever you are going through at work, know that God wants to build character and hope in you. These trials are not coincidental. Stop looking at the problem and look ahead to the purpose behind it. Therefore, do not quit! Trust in the Lord, because his ways are much higher than your ways.
As I have said many times in my previous articles, if you do not know what it means to have hope because you do not have the Holy Spirit of God in your heart, the solution is simple: start to get to know God today in his word. He has promised to draw near to all who draw near to him. The book of John in the Bible is a great place to start.
– Led By The Book
Check out more in my Character Series: