Last night I picked up a book that was beside my bed that I have wanted to read for some time and it A Resilient Life by Gordon MacDonald. MacDonald seeks to give some principles to help Christians “finish what they start, persevere in adversity and push themselves to their potential.” In chapter one he states that resilient people believe that quitting is not an option. MacDonald discusses his mother and how she started a lot of good things but did not finish them. After reflecting about his mother and his own life he made this statement which still is bothering me this morning:
Now, spurred on by that word [quitter – RM] a lot of things became clear to me-about my mother and about myself. Finishing things was a challenge for both of us. It marked our character. The best way I could put it was this: I had a quitter’s gene in me. (Gordon MacDonald, A Resilient Life, p. 2)
Quitter’s gene? Thinking about that this morning I look at my own life and ministry and have seen the very same thing. Here is a list of things I have quit along the way:
- writing a book…
- staying on a diet…
- staying on the baseball team…
- 2010 – Living With and Without (see here)
- Parental Advisory Team – parent group that discussed matters in the youth group
- P.E.T.S. – service team we did a few years ago
- family devotionals…
- reading the bible in 90 days
Some of this is a bit trivial while others is a bit embarrassing. What about you? do you have the quitter’s gene? Do you start things with the intention of finishing them but find yourself quitting before it is ever completed? Why do you do that? Why can’t you finish what you start?
For the Christian there are serious implications for not developing characteristics to finishing strong. Take Caleb for example in Joshua 14 and look at his resilience:
Now the people of Judah approached Joshua at Gilgal, and Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, “You know what the LORD said to Moses the man of God at Kadesh Barnea about you and me. I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh Barnea to explore the land. And I brought him back a report according to my convictions, but my fellow Israelites who went up with me made the hearts of the people melt in fear. I, however, followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly. So on that day Moses swore to me, ‘The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly.’ “Now then, just as the LORD promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the wilderness. So here I am today, eighty-five years old! I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. Now give me this hill country that the LORD promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the LORD helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.” (Josh. 14:6-12)
Caleb is 85 years old when he says “I am still as strong today…” and that takes some serious spunk. That is resilience and Caleb was the type of person who if you wanted to get something done he would do it and finish it. May you be honest about your spiritual life and confess that you are a quitter and be able to trust in God to help you to finish things that you start. May you be diligent, be steadfast and be empowered.