You may well think, oh no not another blog about how we need to persevere and keep going with a plethora of bible verses and encouraging words about why we need to. No this is not another article like that!
In the last few years oh boy hasn’t it been an interesting journey to navigate this and learn more and more about it. The questions I have often asked myself is:
When do I need to persevere and when do I need to stop?
How can I tell when it’s perseverance or when it’s striving and not fully trusting God?
How can I avoid burn out but also know that I am trying hard enough?
What The Lord has shown me over the past few years has helped give me a fresh perspective on perseverance. What I have observed from my own life and coaching many others is that often we use a lot of energy in persevering, but we are not persevering on the most beneficial things.
For example, think about the excitement of launching out in a newly found assignment which feels very connected to your purpose. Imagine, getting opportunities to live your dream and impact the world in a way that is most fulfilling to you. All the possibilities seem good, a ‘match’ and great steps in the right direction. Every new opportunity means leaving what is unfulfilling, dull and lifeless. The new energy and motivation you feel finds you leaping onto any opportunity that takes you away from what you may have been trapped in for many years. I remember that time for me well. It’s a happy time, a time full of hope, anticipation and excitement. Your new energy and motivation can sometimes hide the truth of being in perfect alignment with your purpose.
Sometimes a kind of ‘misguided perseverance’ can show up. For example, you may end up throwing yourself into too many things. All the options may seem very good, kingdom options aligned to who you want to be. Trying to do all of them is not a great idea! Everything has a season and normally trying lots of new and different things at all at once is a recipe for burnout! Persevering and trying to keep all the balls in the air at once becomes a misguided interpretation of perseverance. Another can be persevering along directions that are only partially aligned with our purpose but not in total alignment. When you have been coached into your purpose with a clear life purpose statement and knowing your life messages that you are called to bring the world, it is easier to feel confident you are working on that which is fully aligned.
Another possible area of misguided perseverance can be continuing with something in a season that is not right and is outside God’s timing. It could be exactly the right thing but not in the right season. This kind of perseverance just burns us out leaving us confused and may end up with us wrongly believing that what we thought was right isn’t. The truth is that it’s a simple matter of timing. My rule of thumb has become if I’m having to try too hard, if doors won’t open maybe I’m out of season. I will adjust and go where the favour and ‘ease’ is.
Understanding what Godly perseverance looks like takes time.There are new rhythms and paces to learn. When perseverance is aligned with your unique expression of your purpose in the right season it bears much fruit. Over the past few years I have learnt to adjust and know what walking in right alignment looks like. God has helped me to grow into it. Some fruit of practicing consistent Godly perseverance (as opposed to striving) that I have enjoyed is that I have grown in confidence of my calling. I understand my calling more and own it more. I’ve learned to connect with Him more as He continues to expand on what He showed me initially. One thing that has helped me persevere is to discipline myself to not consider the time lapsed as failure or unusual, but to realise it’s totally normal.
Where we start is mostly not where we finish. Our hearts continue to grow into alignment with God’s heart. The perseverance that God has developed in me over the past few years is about staying true to what He has put on my heart, staying focussed, not giving up, increasing in faith as the time that passes grows, staying present and alive in it no matter how long it takes, no matter how much contrary advice is given, no matter how hard it gets financially, emotionally, mentally.
This weekend God gave me a new revelation. He said: ‘Well done, I asked you to persevere for something for 5 years and you have, you are now released to go after the next part.’ Oh what joy as He revealed to me that I am not leaving the first part but in fact everything He has shown me and taught me in the creation of Part 1, has prepared me and grown me to be ready to start Part 2. He also reassured me that Part 1 remains and will continue. He has increased my capacity. My part has been being faithful with Part 1, staying tuned to His voice as I have navigated the creation of a whole new thing, and to not give up no matter what.
So my conclusion is that the best kind of perseverance is to continue with what God last told us, not forgetting, not giving up and staying listening, believing and hoping.
Written by Tina Southgate, Founder Destiny Coaching Ministries.