PERSEVERANCE: AN INDISPENSABLE VALUE FOR MAN’S SUCCESS IN THE LIGHT OF LK. 9:62 (PP. 119-130)
REV. FR. DR. UDEH BENJAMIN CHIBUEZE - Department of Religion, Nwafor Orizu College of Education, Nsugbe, Anambra State, Nigeria.
As a clergy in the missionary field, who has been interacting with people, coupled with the experiences gathered in the institutions of higher learning, it has been observed that many people who are facing many difficult challenges in life, most often despair and surrender. Many people do not know that if they fail in one area, they can still succeed in another. What it means therefore is that one is expected to know one’s target, and do everything within one’s power to hit that target. It is to this effect that Jesus, referring to the kingdom of God as a necessary target, emphatically affirmed that, who ever puts his hands on the plough and looks back, is not fit for the kingdom of God (Luke 9:62). The purpose of this write up therefore is to awaken people’s consciousness on the importance of perseverance in man’s quest for success in life and to urge people to persevere in their struggle for survival. To verify the possibility of hitting ones target through perseverance, the researcher, examined the difficulties experienced by Abraham Lincoln during his journey to the presidential seat of America and Helen killer’s achievements in life in spite of her deformities. It was observed that duo were able to succeed because of their perseverance and tenacity towards the achievement of their set target. The conclusion therefore is that those who have persevered in the pursuit of their set target most often succeeded. It is therefore recommended that everyone should be able to identify ones set target and go for it. Furthermore, people should stop losing hope in the face of difficulties rather, one should get convinced that perseverance and tenacity can give victory to all.
In the gospel of Luke, Jesus stressed (he importance of bring constant and consistent in (he struggle to achieve something in lilt* (I k 9:62) Coincidentally, perseverance happened to one of the African cultural values. A critical observation of the trend of events in our contemporary society will lead one to questioning. the people's view about this value (perseverance).
There are some sectors in life where some people seem not to understand the role of perseverance in such sectors. For instance, the spiritual life and some vital areas of
man’s social life like education, working for common good and the struggle to become a good citizen.
It therefore becomes necessary to remind ourselves of the importance of perseverance in all the activities of every person so as to achieve the maximum success in life.
This write up will therefore be effectively discussed under the following, sub captions: the meaning of the word man in this discourse, (lie meaning of the word perseverance, perseverance as a value, the biblical demand lot perseverance, perseverance in the service of man’s success, the enemies of perseverance, code of persistence, conclusion and recommendations.
The Meaning of the Word ‘Man’ in this Discourse
Man here refers to both man and woman living. As Taylor (1994:34) puts it, the word ‘man’ means mankind all the races and tubes and nations of human beings in Ihe world, But it also means individual him and women, boys and girls Ihe people we meet each day, the members of our church, those who live m our village or neighborhood or town. The word man also refers to a single person, a man or a woman, 'you ‘or 'I', the human person. According, to Martion (2005:7 I)
Man exists as a unique and unrepeatable being, he exists as an T, capable of self-understanding self possession and
self determination. The human person is an intelligent and conscious being, capable of reflecting, on himself and therefore of being aware of himself and his act ions however, it is not intellect, consciousness and freedom that define the person, rather it is the person who is the basis of the act of the intellect, consciousness and freedom. This act can even be absent, for even without them, man does not cease to be a person.
This implies that man is the centre of freedom and consciousness, a
subjective entity with inviolable uniqueness that is comparable to those
of no one else. Each person is so unrepeatable that the one remains
the only ‘I’ in the universe. This accounts for the inadmissibility of
any attempt to reduce the status of any one whether ideologically or
otherwise. It also places a demand on the individual as he searches for.
the integral development of the self.
According to Iormer and Lechner (2000:1087) “perseverance is the quality of being persistent and preserving, a continuing in a state of grace leading to a state of glory. To persevere, therefore, means “to try hard and continuously in spite of obstacles and difficulties”.
Perseverance includes the act of struggling in spite of all odds to hit the target. It is a dogged resolution and systematic approach to the achievement of a particular set value. It is also an indefatigable determination geared toward the accomplishment of a particular task.
Perseverance as a Value
As I.orimer and Lechner (2000:108/) puts it, "value refers to the measure of how strongly something is desired tin its physical or moral beauty, usefulness, rarity etc, especially, expressed in lei ms ol the effort, money etc, one is willing to expend in acquiring, retaining possession of, or preserving it”. Value therefore to the degree of importance attached to something.
Those things eonstdcied as having very high values are the things that have very high importance attached lo them. These include life which is referred to as primary value property etc. The importance of value in human life is clearly explicated by Auyunwu (2009:3) where he cited Ignacimuthu as saying that
Value gives direction and limitless to life and they bring to life the important dimension of meaning which adds joy, satisfaction and peace to life--- they identity a per son, giving him a name, a face and character. Without values, one would be floating like a piece of drift wood m the swirling water of a river-... they bring quality to life.
There are many kinds of values. These include Religious values social values, personal values, cultural values, ethical values etc.
Perseverance is one of the; personal values Aityituwii (J(MW /) lightly explained that
Personal values are more or less synonymous with what we referred to earlier on. As subjective values they are needed by the individual to achieve goals and standards one sets for ours elf Personal values are thus cherished and pint herd by an individual within oneself without any explicit interaction with any other person.
He gave some examples of personal values its cleanliness, contentment creativity and determination. One who is determined to achieve a particular goal in life is always seen to be persistent, consistent, indefatigable and tenaciously resolute in the pursuit of that goal. The resultant el lei I is success.
The Biblical Demand for Perseverance
In Luke’s Gospel (Lk 9: 62), some people who wanted to follow Jesus Christ began to give excuses, Jesus seized the opportunity to educate Ihe people on hardship of the apostolic calling. In clear terms, he emphatically affirmed that “once the hand is laid on the plough, no one who
looks back is fit for Ihe Kingdom of of God” (I.uke. 9; 62). The picture of the ploughman in this verse of Luke’s gospel shows the degree of carefulness, meticulous attention and tenacity demanded of a true follower of Jesus Christ. The ploughman must not look back if he desires to keep a straight furrow. Jesus wishes his followers to persevere, in their journey lo eternity.
Perseverance is what Jesus has reiterated in many parts of the scripture. For instance, he asserted that at the end lime, many false prophets will arise, they will deceive many, and with Ihe iitciea.se of lawlessness, love in most-men will grow cold but the man who stands firm to the
end will be saved (Matt. 24:11-13). What it means therefore is dial Ihe salvation .of any person will depend on the person’s ability to persevere in doing good and avoiding evil till the end of the person’s life on earth.
Furthermore, Jesus emphasized the importance of persistence in prayer when he narrated the story of die importunate friend who had a visitor and went lo his friend at midnight to ask for bread. He said, “1 tell you, if the man does not get up and give him for friendship’s sake, persistence will he enough to make him get up and give his friend all he wants” (1 ,k, I 1:18).
The same was the case of the importunate widow and the unscrupulous judge. The judge said to himself, “maybe I have neither fear of God nor
respect for man, but since she keeps pestering me, I must give this widow her just rights, or she will persist in coming and worry me to death” (Lk. 18:1-5). The operative words here are pestering and persistence and these are other ways of expressing perseverance.
Jesus emphatically declared the condition for following him when He explicitly affirmed; “if anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matt. 16:24). The gospel of Luke has it that the carrying of the cross should be every day. (Lk. 9:23). What it implies is that following Jesus Christ strongly demands seriousness, consistency and
perseverance. Consequently, perseverance is one of the necessary conditions for human salvation. Invariably, experience also teaches that even outside the spiritual realm, whatever one wants to achieve or accomplish in this life, one has to pursue that ambition without looking back until it is accomplished or achieved.
Perseverance in the Service of Man’s Success
Experience has proved that no man has been able to utilize all the potentialities endowed in him by nature. This accounts for the reason why some people who have no hands can conveniently use their legs to supply the services done by the hand, like, writing, eating, picking
things from wherever they are kept etc. The dumb can use body language to communicate the blind go to school and learn how to read and write. In fact, the handicapped do many wonderful things which those who are not in any way handicapped cannot ordinarily do. For instance, Ofor (2005:28) in his book Secrets of Achievers narrated that
1 lelen Keller was not discouraged at all. At 18 month of age, she was diagnosed of acute congestion of the stomach and brain, which led to her blindness, deafness and dumbness. But this couingrous woman grew up to face her world. She searched for a good teacher who taught her by association. Within months, Keliri made
lemaikahlc impact in her learning that attracted educator worldwide .courageous enough, the handicapped woman studied to communicate English, french and German. With this she wrote number of books that changed her world Item a miserable handicapped to a hero of her time.
file secret behind these successes is perseverance.
Man by nature is a working being. When one aims at a target or a set -goal, the person usually strives to hit the target. And this spurs the person on to be consistent and to preserver till Ihe set goal is achieve. A serious minded person is never afraid of failure knowing full well that it was through trial and error that man developed. Anyone who is afraid of failure will invariably be too afraid of facing challenges in life. Trying and failing is like striking different chords of life till one strikes the right chords, which immediately gives the right tune.
Nweze (2006:2) rightly opined that “every successful life has records of difficulties encountered, but conquered with patience and determination” This is because failure is success tantalizing us but yet to mature. For instance, Abraham Lincoln’s journey to American presidential seat as compiled by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, and cited by Ugwuanyi (2007:36-37), clearly shows what perseverance is capable of achieving.
He had to work to Support them.
Sought to become speaker of the state legislature - defeated.
1840 He sought to be conee lector- defeated
Married Mary Todd Lincoin on November 4. The couple had four sons
1843 Ran for congress-lost
1846 Ran for congie.ss again this lime he won. Went to washing
1847-49 Served one two vent trim m the U.S house of
Representative, then resumed law practice in the Springfield
1854 He ran for senate of the I lulled Stales lost
1856 he sought the vice presidential nomination at his party’s
national convention, got less that 100 votes.
1858 Ran for U.S. senate again, again lie lost
1860 He was elected president of the United States (p.36-37)
I le then served as the 16th president of Amei n a I tom 1801-1865.
This also confirms the saying that “greatness has tales of difficulties; it is not made in a day. It is made by overcoming the problems and oppositions, waves and billows of life”. A clear cut fact is that many people give up very easily especially when they try and li y and lad at each point in time. They forgot that the man who breaks through the tangled webs of difficulties on the road of life, and achieves his objectives has untied the knots tied by the gods. But the person, who has a target, is hound to persevere in the struggle toward achieving the targeted goal without looking back. This is precisely what Jesus meant when He was talking about the kingdom of God, firmly asset ted that who ever lays his hand on the plough and looks back is not fit lot the kingdom of God (LK.9:62). This means that if one really has the Kingdom of God as one’s set-goal or target, one must persistently and doggedly go in pursuit of it in order to achieve it. The implication is that in every sphere of man’s life on earth, persistence is a necessary condition for achieving one’s goal. Therefore, in order to help those who easily give up in the lace of difficulties, a code of persistence is drawn. The essence is to constantly remind ourselves of the need to persevere in our struggle for success in life, for since man is a being under constant formation, he needs constant information.
The Enemies of Perseverance
The veracity of Jesus assertion that looking back once the hand is laid on the plough disqualifies one for the achievement of the goal in view is incontestable. This is because ‘looking back’ in this context means acting with doubt and double mindedness. It can also mean succumbing to the pressure of difficulties and hardships and the acceptance of defeat. For instance, any student who is afraid of facing the difficulties and challenges of academic work like, studying hard and attending lectures with undistracted attention may not hope to make an excellent result.
Similarly, anyone who wishes to pursue any goal in life but fails to persevere in the pursuit of the achievement of that goal may likely not succeed as much as he/she desired. Enemies of perseverance therefore include: discouragement, procrastination, laziness and lack of motivation.
The immediate consequence of the presence of these enemies of perseverance is discouragement. Hence Ugwuanyi (2007:41) rightly opined that
discouragement comes when we feel that our opportunity for success is gone or when we are not immediately successful in our attempts to do something or even when we lack purpose and a plan. Fear of being criticized or Ihe presence of problems could also lead to this.
As a matter of fact, one can easily be discouraged by constant disappointment and failure.
Another enemy of perseverance is procrastination. Fmeiy and Itrcwster (lid) (1953:1399) in The New Century Dictionary slated that "Ihe word procrastination came from two Latin words; “pio” meaning 'forward' and ‘eras’ which means’ tomorrow’, ‘crastinus’ means "of tomorrow”. Procrastination therefore is the act or the habit of procrastinating, lo put off till another day or time or from day to day” It is usually said that procrastination is the thief of time and one of tlie.se days is none of these days. If one wants to buy a car, and continues to postpone buying it. The usual thing is that as one continues to procrastinate, one day, some other problems will emerge and carry away the money for buying the car.
Closest to procrastination is laziness. This is another serious enemy of perseverance. A lazy person will always (Ida actions to another day or time. The scripture has very important admonition for the lazy people. “Lazy people should learn a lesson from the1 way ants live they have no leader, chief or ruler, but they store up their food during the summer, pelting ready for winter. How long is the lazy man going to get up? I will gist lake a short nap he says; I will fold my hands and jest u while’' Hut while he sleeps, poverty will attack him like an armed robber '(prov, 6:6-10) A lazy person will always wait for miracles to bring success 1 m instance, llnoka of things fall apart was anxious going to the oracle to find out why his hum was not yielding good harvest. The truth was that lie was too lazy to (arm well, (Achebe 1958). A lazy person has thousand reasons why activities should be postponed till another time. In fact, it is not the intention of the scripture that any one should be lazy. “Our one desire is that every one of you should go on showing the same earnestness to the end, to the perfect fulfillment of our hopes, never growing careless, but imitating those who have the faith and the perseverance to inherit the promises” (lleh fr 11 1.')
lack of motivation
lack of motivation is another serious enemy of perseverance. Lack of motivation can be caused by the Ignorance of the importance of the said target. For instance, truancy and the attitude of some parents toward the education of their children show the degree of their ignorance of the importance of education. The person is not motivated become he/she docs not see any reason for persevering In the study.
Lack of motivation can also he caused by frustration. One may be frustrated by the fear of failure. For instance in the political area, one who has contested for local government chairman for about twice and failed, contested for the state House of Assembly and failed mighty be tempted to fling his tail between his hind legs and quietly go home in despair. The conclusion often is the saying; once beaten, twice shy
Again, a trader might fail in business for about three or more times. As a result, the person might lose every sense of motivation toward trading, becomes frustrated and decides to go back to the village and stay.
Failure in this circumstance has robbed the person of motivation to continue struggling either as a politician or a trader. In this situation, the parable of Jesus on the need to be constant in prayer and never lose heart serves as a good admonition (Lk. 18:1-8).
Code of Persistence
Ugwuanyi (2007) carefully lifted from Harold Sherman’s book How to turn failure into success what he called the code of persistence. Anyone who gives up very easily should write out this code and recite it daily:
I will never give up as long as I know I am right.
I will believe that all things will work out for me if I
hang on until the end.
I will be courageous and undismayed in the face of
I will not permit anyone to intimidate me or deter
me from my goals.
I will fight to overcome all physical handicaps and
I will try again and again and yet again to
accomplish what I desire.
I will take new faith and resolution from the
knowledge that all successful men and women
had to fight and defeat an adversity
I will never surrender to discouragement or
despair no matter what seeming obstacles may
confront lire (p.42)
It is said that “when the going gets tough, it is the tough that gets going,". So when a set goal is difficult to get at, it is only the persistent that gets at it.
It is obvious that the world is full of obstacles and difficulties and no success is found on a Plata of gold. One must struggle to succeed. For instance, one must struggle to pass examinations, one must struggle to succeed in business, mu- must struggle to succeed in politics etc. since life is full of struggle, one must have to persist, "be consistent and persevere in order to survive and •ana red in life. This is also applicable to our spiritual life. Only those who persevere to the end will see God (Mt. 24:13).
The act of laying hand on the plough and looking back in Lk 9:62 is a clear sign of irresolution, otiosity and inactiveness. The implication is failure and inability in hit the target.
finally, m (he words of Winston Churchill in Castle (1992) “Never give in! Never give m! Never, never, never, never, never - in anything great or small, huge m petty never give in expect to convictions of honour and good sense " The nuns is on every individual to persevere in order to succeed.
Everybody agrees that man’s life on earth is full of ups and downs. Hardly can one find a person who has no problems. There are however people who have more problems than others. It is therefore recommended that when one is constantly confront with difficult and complex problems, enough to divert one’s attention from one's target, rather than losing hope, the person should be patient and persistent, remembering “it is the patient dog that eats the fattest bone ”
A successful person is not one who has not encountered problems or experienced failure, but is one who knows what he wants and in spite of all odds, goes, goes adamantly for it. Therefore it is recommended that people should stop being afraid of failure, rather, if a person fails, the person should try and try again with added effort, such effort is most often crowned with succeed.
Furthermore, it is essential for one to be fully conscious of the importance of his target. This can motive the individual into persevere to hit the said target.
Finally, Abraham Lincoln’* journey to the American perseverance, and recommends that everyone should always persevere in the struggle for success in life.
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An International Mzulti-Disciplinary Journal, Ethiopia Vol. 4 (3b) July, 2010 ISSN 1994-9057 (Print)__________ ISSN 2070-0083 (Online)