I get excited whenever I travel down memory lane to my first visit to Israel. I couldn’t contain the glee that I would experience what I’d read about since I was a kid. I made new friends at the airport before check-in and I was almost awake throughout that trans-Atlantic flight. Touching down at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv was ecstatic. It was a very good flight. But the journey had only just begun.
For about two weeks we traversed the Holy land. Cruising in a boat on the Sea of Galilee was an unforgettable experience. Riding past Armageddon; seeing exquisite jewelry made of different shapes and sizes of diamonds at Eilat Diamond Mine; taking pictures with Palestinian soldiers; seeing the manger at Bethlehem; tasting wine at Cana; listening to teachings in the Synagogue; praying at the Wailing Wall; getting down to the pool at Bethesda; fighting tears at Gethsemane; shouting for joy at the Garden tomb; laden with emotion at the Upper room; beaming with pleasure at King David’s tomb; again fighting tears at Holocaust Museum – were all defining moments in my life.
I would not consider the Mount of Beatitudes to be a mountain per se.
For me it was just an ‘advanced hill.’ There was nothing to climb. I did little climbing when we went up to the top of the Mount of Transfiguration. But real, hard climbing took place at Mount Sinai. Our tour guide had briefed us about what it would take to get to the top of Mount Sinai. He advised those who wouldn’t be able to climb to back off; and warned those who had medical conditions to not even show up at the foot of the mountain. It was freezing cold – so cold that I had to totally layer-up even when the room was maximally heated in my hotel room at the foot of the mountain. To climb to the top of Mont Sinai in freezing temperature was daunting. It wasn’t a task for the fainthearted. Because of the long distance; the winding lane; the freezing temperature; the high altitude; and a toll it would take on the body – climbing to the top of Mount Sinai was only for those who would be able to develop staying power.
A Long Walk to Fulfillment.
Looking back retrospectively, I now understand why I went to Mount Sinai. It was a good experience. The Sinai experience taught me the absolute necessity of developing staying power in our journeys in life. Life is a journey. We all are on specific journeys towards particular destinations. These destinations aren’t nondescript. And certainly they aren’t geographical. On the canvass of our hearts are indelible images of a preferable future beautifully painted by the artistic hands of Destiny. With our eyes fixed and our feet in perpetual motion, we stretch ourselves daily as we journey on to achieve these ideals. On these journeys we experience winding lanes, muddy paths, freezing temperatures, scorching seasons, insensitive people, heartbreak, frills and gloom. Along the way, we go over bumps, ride into potholes, grapple with sweltering summers, run into chilly winters, scale high mountains, and descend steep valleys.
In our journeys to achieve specific goals, we need to gather, to keep gathering, and sustain momentum. How far we would go is directly proportional to how much momentum we have sustained. A stone that is hurled would travel only to the distance that the momentum it has gathered would allow. Life is a long, long walk to fulfillment.
So what should you do to keep the momentum? What practices would help you to hold out and to hold on? How can you develop staying power?
Here are 5 practical ways:
(1) Rehearse the Dream.
You must consistently create and sustain a glee. Then you bask in the ensuing euphoria. I call it PFT: Positive Feeling Therapy. Glee is that over-the-moon, feel–good experience when dreams are accomplished. So, travel to the future and bring it to the present. Pre-playing the future will significantly, if not totally, lubricate any friction you may experience in the present. Go over your dream book. Flip the pages. Keep beholding the pictures of the future whether it’s your career, your family, your business, your ministry – whatever.
A writer has recommended this:
“Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish…he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever….When you find yourselves flagging…go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!”
The writer in Hebrews 12:2-3 is referring to the greatest person this world has ever known, and will ever know – Jesus the Christ.
(2) Envisage the Cost of Failure.
If the feeling of glee cannot keep you in the race, the ‘shame’ of failure should. I need to say that there is no shame in failing while trying to achieve something. Failure is success turned inside out. But we feel a particular type of ‘shame’ that failure tends to inscribe on our forehead when we give up on what we started. Today technology has made things very easy. With just a click of the mouse; with just a touch of the button or on a screen – we get what we want. Sadly, many people live in the illusion that everything would respond to them with just a click of the mouse or a touch of the button. When it doesn’t, they give up. They have expunged patience and consistency from their vocabulary.
But if you want it too bad, you’ve got to hold on too tight, and for too long. If the feeling of glee cannot keep you in the race, the ‘shame’ of failure should. That ‘shame’ of not wanting your name to be added to the burgeoning statistic of failures. That ‘shame’ of not wanting to be socially stigmatized as one of the ‘never-do-well.’ That ‘shame’ of not being scorned by your peers who are successful. That ‘shame’ from derisive gestures of younger people who have ‘made it.’ That ‘shame’ of feeling inferior, or having your esteem wounded, at social events.
I understand that sometimes we would courageously need to get off from paths we entered without thoughtful consideration. I understand that sometimes we would courageously need to stop climbing the ladder that we placed on the wrong wall. I understand that sometimes we would need to stop pursuing ideals for which we are not wired. That’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about giving up on ’tilling the ground’ which you are comfortable with. My focus is on giving up on ‘playing in your field’ – all because you have not developed staying power. Before you give up and walk away, think about these: Think about what you would face. Think about the cost of failure.
(3) Visualize the Blessings of Success.
Think about the physical blessings that would be yours when you succeed. Visualize how your financial status would change. How the way and manner you travel would change. How the place you live would change. How the way you dress would change. How your means of transport would change. And besides you and your immediate family, visualize the blessings your success would bring to your extended family, your friends, and the world at large.
Furthermore, think of the joy your success would bring to humanity. There are people whose successes are linked to, or dependent on, your success. When you succeed, they too would succeed. When you go up, they too would go up. You are the solution to their puzzle. You play a significant role in their lives. When you fail, they fail. That failure could be fatal. There are people who look up to you for inspiration and strength. They are inspired by your tenacity, which trickles down and conditions them to be tenacious too. You hold the ace. You just can’t back out. That would be too fatal a thing to do.
Then there is this set of people who are successful themselves: Your father, wife, sponsors, pastor, tutors, mentors, etc. They want you to succeed too. They give you counsel. They stand with you in the freezing rain. They stick by you in the scourging heat. They speak into your life. They show you the way. They pray for you. They invest in you. They give you tools that would help you succeed. They would have unbridled joy when you succeed. You just can’t back out of the race. If you did, you would wound them. Grievously. It would be too fatal a thing to do.
(4) Charge Your Batteries.
To develop staying power, you must consistently immerse yourself in what I call ‘clouds of inspiration.’ Inspiration is a constant denominator in the staying power equation. Inspiration matters. Empirical research has validated the nexus between personal performance and inspiration. It is critical. The Greek call it Koinonia – Fellowship. Another word that explains it is Kindle. When you consistently immerse yourself in ,clouds of inspiration,’ you are ‘charging your batteries.’ You do that by hanging out with VIPs: Very Inspiring People – folks who can light your fires. You must schedule to spend adequate time with people who would stoke the flames of your persistence. When you feel your battery running down, plug it to their electric power socket. To light fires in rural settings, a burnt-out coal is placed on a burning ember. Then the ‘magic’ happens. You must learn to stay around people who can light your fire. That’s how to ‘charge your batteries.’
(5) Service the Engine.
In the UK, MOT test checks are done every year once a vehicle is three years old. This is to make sure that the vehicle is in good working condition. A car should be serviced consistently if it must operate at maximum efficiency.
In the same way, the human engine must be serviced consistently for it to operate at maximum efficiency. The human engine is the human spirit. When that spirit is broken, everything is broken. When that spirit is low, output will consequently be low. But when that spirit is bold, vibrant and strong, the human casing will fall into line. It will consequently run at maximum efficiency. It will not faint or breakdown.
You’ve got to service your engine – I mean your spirit. When you service your engine, you build a strong spirit. And a strong, indomitable human spirit engenders an incredible staying power. Many people have different ways of servicing their human spirit. For the Christian, an apt allegory would be the molten period of the eagle. Isaiah captures this:
‘‘He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts. For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall. But those who wait upon GOD get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles. They run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind”
These daily and periodic encounters with God when they pray, study the bible, worship, attend church services, fast, and take on other spiritual disciplines, service their engine. For me, these are the things that keep my engine at optimum performance. Sincerely, without these exercises, I would have stopped pursuing my dreams.
So when your staying power diminishes and your indicator points downward towards the zero mark, then it’s time to take your engine to ‘MOT’ for servicing.
Hold Out; Hold On!
I may not have the thunderous voice of a military commander. But I charge you: Hold out; it might take a little longer for things to shape up and shape in.
I may not have the soft-spoken tongue of a vessel’s captain. Still I beseech you: Hold on; you’re close to harbor.
As you read this, you are nearer to the dream. You’ve covered much ground already. You can’t give up now. Stay on course. Keep going. Keep doing.
Rehearse the dream.
Envisage the cost of failure.
Visualize the blessings of success.
Charge your batteries.
And service the engine.
That’s how to develop staying power.
How can you develop staying power? How do you sustain momentum?
What practices have helped you hold out and hold on?
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