I consider the following verses to be the most important in my life. The key to becoming like Christ in character and accomplishing a lot with your life that matters is endurance.

Hebrews 12:1-3 . . . let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

A book that impacted me shortly after I started pastoring was Eugene Peterson’s “A Long Obedience in the Same Direction.” I read it 40 years ago and at least four times since then. A sentence that was burned into my mind was, “It is impossible to become like God overnight, and nothing is accomplished that has God’s stamp of approval on it that was easy and quick.”

Today people want things quick and easy, and if it takes discipline and endurance, it is abandoned for something else.

So many times I wanted in the worst way to quit pastoring, at least at Jefferson, I felt like such a failure. I am so thankful for those in my life who counseled me to endure and not to quit. I called my Dad at one of my lowest points and asked his opinion, and he said, “Never quit when you are down, it is almost always the wrong choice because your motives are wrong, you simply want to escape from the hard to the easy. Wait until you are succeeding to make a change, and then your motives are much more Nobel, and you won’t end up questioning your choice for the rest of your life.”

Today people quit on relationships because they are hard and take work. Every relationship I have takes work, even Patty, not because of her deficiencies but my own. My character flaws and deficiencies show up in life and create problems. I am often slow to recognize that the struggles I am having are because of my own weaknesses rather than someone eles’s, and if I bail on a person or circumstance the opportunity for that flaw of mine to become a strength is gone. James 1:2 says, “and let endurance have it’s perfect result that you may become perfect and complete lacking in nothing.”God gives strength, joy, peace, and inner significance to those who choose to endure, to stay faithful, to not be a quitter.

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