Perseverance in parenting is not so much one long race, buy but rather a series of short races connected together like links of a chain. Kent McClain
Years ago when I was a young parent I ran a 26 mile marathon race in Colorado; the difficult race was a series of short runs one leading to the next very much like the links of a chain. Each running link had its own challenges; the first 7 miles, usa for instance, were certainly different than the final seven, especially in relation to the amount of energy I had in reserve. The marathon is analogous to the challenges of parenting because both require perseverance in order to finish well.
Parenting must be accomplished in stages, one stage leading to the next, like the links of a chain. Each stage has its own challenges, surprises, disappointments, and victories. The key to each stage, or link, is your persistent resolve to trust God, your commitment to be in harmony with your spouse, and your unrelenting steadfastness never to give up no matter what. If you are constant in these three things, and you take your parenting responsibilities one stage or link at a time then you will finish strong with your children.
I want to share with you two key passages and a remarkable story that demonstrates perseverance.
The first passage comes from a letter Paul wrote to his fellow Christians in Philippi during his last days of life on earth. In this passage Paul was not engrossed in his past failures or successes; he was only focused on what he could do for the Lord now and into the future. In your parenting you need to have this same attitude; that is, not to be overly wrought with past failures, or dependent on past successes.
Philippians 3:12-14 12 Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus
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. 13 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
In the next passage, Paul speaks of running a persistent race for God by presenting the Gospel to as many as he could during his life time. This is what Paul regarded as winning the race. You need the same winning persistence with your children; that is, to do all you can to nurture and mature them to be wonderful sons and daughters of the Lord. And winning means you never give up, but persevere through every circumstance thrown in your path or your child’s path.
Cor. 9:23-27 23 I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it. 24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. 25 Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; 27 but I discipline my body and make it.
In the following story you will see tremendous resolve and perseverance against all odds to save the lives of 27 men. As a parent you should take this as an example of what you would be willing to do with your own children.
In December 1914, departing from South Georgia, an island in the Atlantic Ocean, Ernest Shackleton led a crew of 27 men in a quest to cross Antarctica on foot, the last-known unclaimed prize in exploration annals. As they drew within 85 miles of the continent, their ship was trapped by unusually thick ice. Originally called Polaris, the ship had been renamedEndurance by Shackleton, a term derived from his family motto, Fortitudine Vincimus, which means “by endurance we conquer.” This name proved to be prophetic.
Frozen fast for ten months, the trapped ship was eventually crushed and destroyed by the increasing pressure. Forced to abandon the ship, the men salvaged their lifeboats, camped on the ice for five months, and hiked to navigable waters. Amazingly, Shackleton and every crew member survived for 20 months in one of the most vicious regions of the world. They overcame extreme cold, breaking ice floes, leopard seal attacks, a shortage of food and drinking water, and finally two open boat trips.
The most remarkable of the small boat trips was a treacherous 800-mile ocean crossing back to South Georgia by Shackleton and a few of the men. Today, that achievement is considered one of the greatest accomplishments in nautical history. After arriving at South Georgia, Shackleton led his team across the rugged, icy mountains, reached the island’s remote whaling station, organized a rescue team, and went back for the others.
The miraculous outcome against horrendous odds was attributed to Shackleton’s leadership. When interviewed later, every member of the crew said he highly respected and admired Shackleton throughout the entire two-year ordeal. Shackleton never doubted they would survive and he communicated this confidence to the others. But his optimism was mixed with realism. When it became clear the Endurance could not withstand the pressure of the ice, he made plans to abandon ship, set up camp, and search for additional possibilities. When they journeyed across the ice and Shackleton realized the need to discard weight, one of the first things to go was his valuable heirloom gold watch, which the men knew he greatly treasured. In the lifeboat journey through the frigid stormy sea, he daringly stood in the stern of the small craft and meticulously guided its course.
Shackleton maintained cohesion and cooperation among the men. He constantly emphasized, “We are one – we live or die together.” He made it clear that he was in command, but he was always open to others’ opinions and asked for input and suggestions. He led open discussions each evening and helped build social bonds among the men. He stressed courtesy and mutual respect. Everyone, including Shackleton, worked side by side and performed chores
Shackleton defused anger. He wisely handled power struggles and dissidents before they could take hold, even sharing his tent with the potentially biggest dissenter. He had to alter short-term objectives and keep the men’s energy on these objectives while never losing focus of the long-term goals. He found ways to lighten things up with humor and made sure there were always little successes to celebrate. His methods and actions eliminated what could have been devastating anxiety and despair among the men.
In the end, he knew that survival depended on a bold act, literally a do-or-die act, which was the attempt to reach an outpost by crossing 800 miles of tempestuous seas in an open boat. He took the chance. As a result, all 28 men not only survived, but also became the epitome of the rewards that can come from belief, creativity, and 212° perseverance. (An excerpt from the book “212° – the extra degree.”)
So don’t give up, parent your children one stage at a time with great perseverance. And if you do then when you are finished and your children have left the home, you will be able to look back with joy on the race you ran as a parent.