Stubborn. Strong-willed. These are not words that seem like positive traits or gifts, especially if they refer to a toddler. I certainly needed to read the book Raising the Strong-Willed Child to understand and learn the best ways to harness that strong will for good. Interestingly, one of my high school Sunday school students said that she thinks being stubborn could be a gift that leads to perseverance, and most people view perseverance as a virtue, so maybe she’s correct.
At my house these days, we are watching season fifteen of The Voice. One of the performers that made the show has auditioned for every season. Y’all that’s perseverance. But the other day, a friend said that some people should realize no matter how hard they work, they will never be a professional singer. As an example, she pointed to the auditions for American Idol. She said some people should quit.
At my house, quit is a four-letter word. My children know that once they start something they will see it to the end. I told this same friend that my daughter’s career goals are to have a Country music hit song and be President of the United States. The friend asked if my daughter had a backup plan. Honestly, I believe if this is God’s will, and she’s obedient, these things that seem unattainable to many, she will achieve. She will succeed because she is that strong-willed child. She will succeed because she will persevere. Like Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and He will make your paths straight.”
But how do we keep striving, keep going, keep having faith that we will succeed? I believe God knows that as broken people, we need assurances and reassurances. I recently read a Bible study, and the author suggested that Mary, the mother of Jesus, went to her cousin Elizabeth for just such an assurance. And I mean, if anyone needed some encouragement, it had to be Mary. Filled with the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth exclaimed, “Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!” Luke 1:45
We all need people like Elizabeth in our lives. Those that will pray for us and encourage us. God puts those people in our lives because He knows we need assurance that we are working for the right goals. Two different women, who I consider mentors have said these same words to me. “You will be successful because you are obedient.”
But when we are serving God and seeking His will for our lives, he gives other nudges, even pats on the back that we are working toward the goal that He wants for us that will best serve Him. The other day He even sent one in the form of a Tweet. Yes, God is on Social Media.
Last Summer, I gave a talk about perseverance which as an aspiring writer is a topic for which I’ve become an expert. However, the week before the talk, I found out that I’d lost a writing competition. Now, I’ve lost before, but this one hit me harder. I was filled with doubt, and in an effort to overcome it, I blared Contemporary Christian music from my car radio and counted my blessings aloud. Then it happened, God gave me a great big bout of encouragement when the radio station announced the verse for the day:
“Be confident that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion.” Philippians 1:6. This is one of my go to verses, and there it was on the radio. God knew I was struggling, but He didn’t leave me wondering. He said, Leslie, I gave you this gift and this dream, and you just keep being obedient, and one day you will see success.
I love the author Catherine Marshall and highly recommend her books. Her words inspire me. Her husband was a gifted preacher, and when he died unexpectantly, Mrs. Marshall was asked to collect and edit his sermons for a book. This was not an easy task, but she was obedient and went on to be a successful author. These were her words as she began the journey. “If the wish to be a writer was God’s will for me, He would hear me when I asked for the help I needed; and if He heard, then this wish would someday be granted. The timing would be up to Him. So, I sent this particular dream wafting back toward heaven with the confident awareness that He had already heard.”
I know most of you aren’t writers, but you all have work to do—work God has called you for—special work that only you can do. Who encourages you? What scripture gives you assurance? Please share; I’d love to add some more to my bank. We can’t have too many inspirational words, and the verse you love may be exactly the one that someone needs. Please leave your comments on my website so others can see them.