Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, [Hebrews 12:1]
A few weeks ago I mentioned that I tend not to be an overly emotional person. [See November 26 – Superheroes] That isn’t completely true. If there is one thing that gets me emotional it’s seeing, hearing about and most of all participating in a victory in the face of strong opposition or adversity. I cry tears of joy when the outmanned, underfunded plucky good guys win. My heroes are not the top of the heap, über-successful leaders of the world; they are the second place, almost winners who fight for everything until that fateful day when once, and usually just once, they win it all!
That’s one of the reasons I became an entrepreneur. As a child I always had big dreams of getting rich (who doesn’t?) but my dreams where always peppered with a bit of real world understanding. I’ve never been the smartest guy in the room, I’m not the most hansom, or the most charismatic and I am certainly not the strongest. What I am is there, quietly going about my business, putting in the time and working hard. I may never win but I won’t ever quit either.
You see the first step to victory is to show up and play the game. If you want to get better, you show up to practise. Once you reach the top, and you want to stay there, you keep working. There is always a second place contender who is trying to knock the number one guy off. All it takes is one slip and number two becomes number one. The only thing better than seeing an underdog win is then seeing him fail, get back up and win again.
Steve Jobs at Apple Computer is at the top of the computer, internet and smart-phone world. He used to be an also ran in all three categories. That is until he worked harder than IBM, Microsoft and RIM. Is he smarter than Bill Gates? I doubt it. Did he work harder? You better believe it!
The apostle Paul in his letter to the Hebrews called for perseverance. The passage quoted above comes right after the so called “faith hall of fame” [Hebrews 11], which is a list of great men (and a few women) of God who persevered through hardship holding on to nothing more than a promise. Some won great victories but many died before they could see their vision become fully manifest. The end of the chapter sums it up nicely while not shrinking from that fact;
who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning;[e] they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— [Hebrews 11:33-37]
2010 has been a rough year for me. We’re in a recession and business is down almost 15%. I nearly lost my house at the end of August, but I persevere. Not because I know for sure things will get any better in 2011 but because perseverance is the only thing I know.
As 2010 comes to a close my prayer for 2011 and each of you is that we may continue to run the race with perseverance, whatever that race may be and where ever it may take us, because we can’t claim a victory if we stop running.