The story is told that Andrew Jackson's boyhood friends just could not understand how he became a famous general and then the President of the United States. They knew of other men who had greater talent but who never succeeded. One of Jackson's friends said, "Why, Jim Brown, who lived right down the pike from Jackson, was not only smarter but he could throw Andy three times out of four in a wrestling match. But look where Andy is now." Another friend responded, "How did there happen to be a fourth time? Didn't they usually say three times and out?" "Sure, they were supposed to, but not Andy. He would never admit he was beat -- he would never stay 'throwed.' Jim Brown would get tired, and on the fourth try Andrew Jackson would throw him and be the winner." Picking up on that idea, someone has said, "The thing that counts is not how many times you are 'throwed,' but whether you are willing to stay 'throwed'." Leaders face setbacks, but must take courage and go forward in faith and trust. The battle is the Lord's, so there is no excuse for us to stay "throwed"!
Perseverance – what it takes to stay with something until it is completed. Andrew Jackson evidently understood the word.
A. B. Meldrum once said, “Bear in mind, if you are going to amount to anything, that your success does not depend upon the brilliancy and the impetuosity with which you take hold, but upon the everlasting and sanctified bull-doggedness with which you hang on after you have taken hold.”
Throughout the history of man, leaders have usually propelled the greatest achievements with an against-all-odds tenacity. The unshakable convictions of the righteous of a cause have kept adventurers, explorers, entrepreneurs and visionaries going despite overwhelming difficulty and fierce competition from the market. They were and continue to be persistent, holding fast to their beliefs and moving the organization or the idea forward.
The Apostle Paul writes to the Philippians:
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Incredible words from an incredibly persevering man. Paul was humble enough to know he had not arrived. He is focused on the prize (the right goal). He learned from his mistakes and pressed ahead. He was committed from a deep sense of purpose and he trusted something outside of his own pride, knowledge and resume.
Julian Phillips and Allan Kennedy wrote, “Success in instilling values appears to had had little to do with charismatic personality. Rather it derived from obvious, sincere, sustained personal commitment to the values the leaders sought to implant, coupled with extraordinary persistence in reinforcing those values.”
Persistence is critical to leading any organization or group of people. Persistence, not prideful stubbornness, but a laser-sharp focus on biblical values, goals and humility.