I decided for my next blog post, I would write about being patient. I have struggled and struggled with the idea and didn’t find anything substantive to write about. The more I thought about patience, the more impatient I became.
Then I had an idea. I remembered that in my first book, Make Your Life Count, I included a chapter on patience. Before reading it, I wondered if it would be anything worthwhile. I found that there was good material, relevant to everyday life. The title of the chapter is “Have Patience –and Persistence.” Most important of all was the fact that I needed this chapter to help me get through a rut. It made sense to me to include the whole chapter. I hope it rings as true to you as it did to me.
Most celebrations are special and this one was no exception. There were no decorations, fireworks, or crowds of people. It was only a quiet lunch in an ordinary restaurant in New York City, and there were just the two of us – Gene, tall and angular with graying hair, smartly dressed in blue blazer and red-and-blue-striped tie, and myself. Despite the simplicity, it was an event I shall always remember because of what I saw and heard that day.
After we found a table and placed our orders, Gene began to speak, in characteristic short, clipped sentences.
“Arthur, you’ve known me for a long time,” he said. “During most of that time, my life has been a struggle. Before I met you, I’d made and lost my fortune. And when I came to New York, I had to start all over again.” He glanced down momentarily, then faced me again.
“Do you remember the first time we had lunch together?” he asked. “I do because of how uncomfortable I felt. I didn’t have enough money to pay for the meal. And as you talked, I kept wondering whether you’d pick up the check. You can’t imagine how relieved I was when you did!”
“That wasn’t the only time I was broke. Many times during the last three years, I’ve lived from hand to mouth, not knowing where my next meal would come from. But things are different now. My business is doing very well, and so am I. So let’s celebrate!”
Things certainly were different now for Gene, I agreed. This cheerful, relaxed man didn’t look anything like the fidgety, preoccupied person who’d sat across the table that day three years ago and told me about his plans. In a relatively short amount of time, Gene had completely rebuilt his life.
“How did you manage to come so far in only three years?” I asked.
Gene’s answer was simple and straightforward. “I found out that if you know what you want, and what you want is right for you, you need only go after it. Stick with it even when the going is rough, and in time it will come. That’s the principal I’ve applied. But I don’t think I could have made it without regular worship and prayer. The spirit of my church helped keep me motivated. I guess you can say that I made it by the power of God.”
What Gene was describing, the attitude that had worked so well for him, was nothing more than faith and persistence – his strategy for getting back on his feet. The same formula that Gene used will get results for anyone else who earnestly tries it. Determine what you want. Make sure it is right for you. Be sure it is spiritually sound; ask God’s blessing on it. Then, patiently and persistently, pursue your goal!
Persistence and patience pay off in productivity and in personal growth. Each new challenge brings another opportunity for both.
I once saw a very vivid example of success through patient persistence by a most unlikely character – in a most unlikely place. It was at a campground in the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming where my family and I were camping one summer.
Our camp was located in one of the most beautiful spots I have ever seen, a little area called Leigh Lake. The lake itself was no more than two-and-a-half miles long and a mile across at its widest point. Trees were everywhere, and the view looked as it must have looked ten thousand years ago – fully developed by God and virtually untouched by man.
Across the lake rose the snow-covered peaks of Mount St. John and Mount Moran, and above them all the Grand Teton. The majestic pinnacle of the Teton’s highest peak towered 13,776 feet into the sky, a hundred feet higher than Switzerland’s famed Jungfrau. The sky was clear blue, and you could see it, together with the mountains, reflected in the cold, still water of the lake.
At that early hour of the morning, the only other creatures I took notice of were the birds, a tiny chipmunk looking for crumbs near the ashes of last night’s fire, a few other reluctant campers a good distance down the lakeshore, and a solitary black ant.
The little insect walked in front of my foot, his legs moving in a quick, easy rhythm. I had really never watched an ant before, but I recalled that the Bible mentions the ant several times. Ants are supposed to be wise, resourceful, and very highly organized socially.
I thought it would be interesting to test this insect’s wisdom and resourcefulness. First I made a little hill in the sand. It must have seemed like a mountain to the ant. He walked along without breaking stride and went right up the hill and down the other side. Then I dug a little hole to make a valley across his path. He went down the valley and, again without stopping, marched up the other side. Next I took a stone and put it in front of him. He tried to climb the stone, struggled a bit, fell back, reconsidered the situation, then walked around it.
This little ant was passing some tough tests. I decided to try one more obstacle. I put a twig in front of him. He struggled with the twig until he also found a way over it.
During all those trials, what did that little ant do? He kept moving. At no time did he stop and consider himself to be in bad circumstances. He did not complain. I did not see him go to another ant and tell him how bad things were. Nor did he go to the government of the ant colony and ask it to solve his problem. That little ant knew what his task was. He saw every obstacle only as another challenge, and he continued to move through each obstacle until he arrived at his goal.
This little creature gave me an impressive lesson in persistence and patience. He knew how to do only one thing – to keep on going. He was never overwhelmed by the obstacles. And he didn’t give in to feelings of fatigue. He seemed to realize it would take time and effort to get to his destination, and he kept going, patiently and persistently. To me, his patient persistence made the difference.
People who patiently persist, undaunted by obstacles, usually get ahead – and grow as they go. Their lives count!
> > Excerpt from: Make Your Life Count by Arthur Caliandro