Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

July 29, 2012


Every worthy endeavor requires persistence


        We hear it said that great deeds are the result of blood, sweat and tears. Well for my money you can forget the tears. What every worthy endeavor requires is actually blood, sweat and persistence.       Few things worth doing are ever accomplished without persistence. It is the great secret to success.

This virtue of the human spirit calls to mind words like diligence, doggedness, unrelenting, determination, and perseverance. These words remind us that unless we are willing to “keep on keeping on,” often against overwhelming resistance, our efforts will not be crowned with success.  

        The Bible offers us many excellent examples, not the least of which is the unrelenting pursuit of the will of God by Jesus. But for a moment consider the example of Nehemiah. He took on a difficult assignment for God. It was a task he could not accomplish alone. The rebuilding of the wall required the help of many people. Some of the people he called on to help let him down. But Nehemiah refused to give up. He stayed the course.

        Churches sometime fall to pieces when disgruntled people walk away from the fellowship. Those members who remain must decide whether to give up or carry on. Recovery usually requires a few people with the spirit of Nehemiah who will, without rancor toward the quitters, persist in finding other people to join them in getting the job done. If you say of some person you admire, “He stayed the course,” you have paid that person a beautiful compliment.

        Nehemiah’s noble efforts were fiercely opposed. But he did not allow his detractors to defeat him. He used the gifts God had given him – the gifts of persuasion, organization, encouragement, and faith in God. He persuaded people to embrace his vision. He organized the people according to their skills. He encouraged the people to “keep their hands on the plow.” He inspired people to believe that God would reward their diligent labor.

        It is not difficult to recognize work that needs to be done. We are all good at seeing a problem and saying, “Somebody needs to do something about that.” But usually nothing gets done until a Nehemiah comes along and says, “Let’s tackle this job together.” The most “Somebody” ever does is complain. Walls are never rebuilt until a Nehemiah shows up and challenges people to get organized and go to work. God’s work usually requires a team effort.

        We cannot overemphasize the fact that, inspired by Nehemiah, the people were willing to work. They “had a mind to work.” I love that phrase, “a mind to work.” What a blessing it is to see people step forward, get their hands dirty and get the job done!

Churches are made strong not by talk but by work. Talk is cheap. Most churches are filled with people who “yap” constantly about what the pastor and the staff ought to do. But call a “work day” and the talkers seldom show up. “We had to go out of town to see Aunt Sally,” they whine.

        Yet, thank God, the work goes on. Even a few people can get a lot done if they have the right perspective. The motive for which we work is crucial. We spoil it if we work for the applause of others or out of a desire to have “control.” We work best when we offer our labor as an expression of gratitude for what the good Lord has done for us.

        Attitude is so important. When we choose to be persistent in doing work for God, we must take care not to become mulish and inflexible. The Jews had to be flexible. Their enemies made it necessary for some of the Jews to stand guard while others worked. Henry Ward Beecher wisely observed, “The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is that one comes from a strong will, and the other from a strong won’t.”

        We have not only the inspiring example of Nehemiah but also that of Jesus and the Apostle Paul. Jesus refused to let his enemies deter him from his mission. Resolutely he “set his face” toward Jerusalem so that he could do the work his Father had sent him to do. His willingness to “endure the cross, despising the shame,” inspires us to persevere in our work when the going gets tough. And it always will.

        When our burdens are heavy and we are tempted to quit, the words of Saint Paul can renew our determination, “Let us not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9). How many times this scripture has caused me to cry out, “Lord, help me not to grow weary in doing what I believe is your will!” And He has always answered, “Alright I will; now get up and get back to work!”

        In his day Winston Churchill’s persistence changed the course of history for England. When the “walls” of England were being destroyed by Hitler’s army, Churchill persuaded the English people to get organized, go to work, and have faith in God. In response to Churchill’s challenge, the people were willing to work, and with the help of God, they got the job done.

        The virtue of persistence calls to mind Churchill’s speech to students at Harrow, his old school, in 1941, when he said,  "This is the lesson: never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy." What a speech! What a difference the dogged spirit of Churchill made for his nation!

        When we become weary in doing the work to which we have been called, crying will not help. Forget the tears. Stop feeling sorry for yourself and get back in the game with blood, sweat and persistence. Stay the course. Persevere. Then, when you think you have done all you can do, you will have the joy of realizing that unseen hands have helped you finish the job. + + +