When I was a kid we had a dog named Snoozy. She loved to play. We would take an old sock, tie a knot in it, and let her grab a hold of the end. We would then play a game of “tug of war.” As soon as we got the sock away, (and it was hard work to finally do that) Snoozy would lunge after it again. The game could go on for hours!
This isn’t our dog but another dog who enjoyed the same kind of game!
What I loved about that dog was no matter how long you played with her, she wouldn’t give in. She was always ready to give it another try. Once she got a grip on the sock, she wasn’t letting go. You could literally pick her up high off the floor. She’d be hanging from the sock she had gripped in her teeth like she was permanently attached.
That is perseverance. It is a refusal to give up. It is a refusal to give in.
As we pursue the making of disciples among the unreached, we need that kind of attitude. Hold on tight to the promises God has given you and refuse to let go of them. When your God-given dream seems to be slipping through our fingers, you need (like my dog did) to lunge after it and take hold once again. Fight to keep a grip on the dream of seeing a radical multiplication of disciples among the people He has called you to. Press through the obstacles you are facing.
Paul wrote in his letter to the Philippian disciples about perseverance. He said,
“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14-NIV).
My husband and I run half marathons together.
A few months ago we were training for an upcoming race. We had just come back from a ministry trip and we were tired. We woke up that morning and knew we had a long run ahead that day. We had to go 18 kilometers.
It was hard to get out the door, but even harder to keep running that day. My legs felt like rubber. Breathing was difficult. My knees hurt. I really didn’t feel like training that day!
15 kilometers into the run, I was ready to quit. “I think I’m going to be sick,” I told my husband. I really thought I might pass out right there on the roadside.
With empathy, he asked me, “Do we need to stop and walk?”
“No. Let me keep going. I can go another little bit” I said.
I just focused on the next kilometer, and then the next, and then the next. Pretty soon, I’d made it through that difficult training run and it was behind me.
Sometimes our journey toward a DMM (Disciple Making Movement), with thousands of Jesus followers and multiple generations, feels a bit like that training run. We feel weary. We are worn out. Progress feels difficult or impossible, and doing some other kind of ministry looks extremely attractive.
Do two things when you feel like this.
- Remember Your WHY.
Why did you embrace the goal of a DMM in the first place?
I embraced DMMs because I genuinely believe it is the fastest way to impact lostness in the communities of unreached people I love. I embraced this vision because I knew God was calling me to it. I embraced this goal because I desperately want to see the nations worship Jesus and for Him to receive the glory and worship He deserves. Remembering the WHY helps us keep moving when we feel like quitting.
2. Focus on the NEXT STEP.
Just do the next action that will take you forward. Share the gospel with one person. Learn 10 new words of that difficult language. Coach one person this week. Set up one new discipleship training group. You get the idea.
Your next step in the journey may be different than mine or someone else. That is fine. We all need perseverance, though, to finish the race God called us to.
I am so glad Paul didn’t give in to his weariness and the hardship, but persevered to the end. He refused to give up on His calling. Key churches began that later multiplied across Asia Minor and the rest of the world.
I wonder what is at stake if you were to stop pursuing the dream of a DMM in your area? Of reaching your city? Maybe thousands of people would remain lost. Maybe whole cities would fail to be transformed.
Don’t give up and don’t give in. This is the year of breakthrough for you. Press on! Persevere!