Perseverance, the Mark of a Winner!

Keith PateWhile a student at Samford over 35 years ago, my voice instructor (Dr. Paul Richardson) gave his freshman class an article that made a lasting impact on my life. The article was entitled: Perseverance, the Mark of a Winner. In the article the writer espoused how “talent” alone would not guarantee an individual’s success. Many talented people have not developed their art, nor learned how to properly use what they have been given, therefore wasting what God has entrusted to them. (i.e. Matthew 25:14-30). Talent does not always equal “success.” One cannot discount “hard work” as a major factor in overcoming an obstacle or achieving greatness.

It is amusing to me (although it shouldn’t be) how God weaves happenings into our lives to teach us truths we need to face an upcoming challenge or hardship. James 1:12 says:

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him. (NIV)

Some calamities come our way that are so unexpected we are ill equipped to handle with any degree of repose. We wilt under the crushing burden much like a seedling on a hot summers’ day.

It is during those times we look around and perceive others who face mishaps with a perceived breezeless, unruffled tranquility. Yet we are panic stricken, paralyzed by fear and desperation. How do we continue?

While growing up, my father had an old 1963 green Chevy pickup truck. By the time I came along it was primarily used for odd jobs on the farm. The tires were fairly bald and its body was dinged and dented from years of hard labor. It was a standard transmission with the gear shift on the steering column. This is the vehicle on which I learned to drive out in the pastures of our farm. During the winter months I was primarily conveyer of the hay as my dad dropped bails from the bed of the truck for the hungry cows. The barn, where the hay was stored, was on a hill which led to the pasture that the cows occupied. During the rainy season the hill became a marshy, soggy, mucky mess. The only way the truck would climb the slick, sludgy hill was to race the truck engine while at the bottom of the hill, throw it in gear and gun it! Most of the time this job was reserved for my dad, although as teenager I was afforded the hair-raising opportunity on occasion. The truck would sway and swerve frenetically as we made our way up the hill. Many times it took numerous attempts before making it up the hill and through the gate, as we rode in a blaze of blue smoke; tires throwing mud in all directions! Thrilling to a youngster I must admit. No matter how many attempts it took to make it up that sloppy, pasty, water logged hill my dad was determined to not be outdone. I recall getting stuck only once and having to get the tractor to pull the truck from its miry situation.

Spiritually, we all face struggles much like that muddy, mucky, water logged hill. We slide, we race, and we weave and sometimes even get stuck in the mud. However, we must keep moving; even when it seems it is the last time we can start over at the bottom of the hill— just “gun it” and go. Victory comes to those who move, not to those who get stuck in the murky mess and give up. In the power of the Holy Spirit, Persistence is the key! Stay the course! Press on to win!

Keith Pate About Keith Pate

Keith is originally from Castleberry, AL in Conecuh County. He joined Eastern Hills as Minister of Music in January of 2005 from Anastasia Baptist Church in St. Augustine, FL.