Persistent

I would be strong to follow where He leads me

One of the challenges we face in life is coping with a sense of futility. No matter how hard we work or what we accomplish with our work, it is never enough. Goal setting is a must to be a competent manager of people, processes and events. But achieving the goal is a temporary state, leaving us with a dispirited sense of what now? It is especially troubling when you are young and have many more career years ahead of you.

For myself, I know that I am prone to depression after each success. The passion one feels in the pursuit is absent once the goal is attained. There is a definite high for me in working the process; intermediate steps change the conditions, which in turn require continued analysis and adjustments in tactics to fulfill the strategic purpose. Tension and stress can be ironic indicators of a vibrant life in all its exhilarating glory. Hence the definite low once the process is concluded and the stress is relieved. Emptiness follows.

I know of others who suffer the same fate, but for a different reason. All their hard work never completely solves the problems they’ve attempted to remedy. Not everyone can be cured or fed or housed or clothed and the task becomes an endless echo of rolling one’s mammoth stone up a steep hill. They can never solve all the world’s problems and reach a point of bliss in the ultimate completion of their work. There is always another mouth to feed or a homeless soul to shelter.

What is needed for psyches like ours is a change in focus, the development of a trait which finds contentment within itself. Persistence may be that trait. Not giving in or giving up is the antidote for the dispirited attitude which follows the realization that the hoped for destination is merely a way station on the path of life.

Persistence is what I have labeled this week’s character trait, inspired by the 1905 poem written by Howard Arnold Walter. His line about having the strength of will to follow another without fail is what I regard as the strength to persevere despite the difficulties encountered. The ideal is to allow persistence to be its own perpetual reward, transcending accomplishments as merely the evidence of a character trait immune to failure.

Walter’s poem was divided into three stanzas of four lines each and we are now in the third line of that third stanza. What he proclaims in this final act of his composition is to be faithful and devout, to which I am now adding the concept of being persistent. It’s a sequence of related parts, one building on another to craft a self-sustaining quality of dependability we all can emulate. But Walter, the Princeton divinity student held to one further feature we must acknowledge here. His faithfulness, devotion and persistence focuses on the God of the Bible; the One who is omniscient (all knowing), omnipotent (all powerful) and immutable (unchanging). Walter’s course was thereby set by the One who can see eternity and is never subject to our frail encounter with the fleeting nature of success.

Walter’s worldview represents a true change of focus in which purpose without end ensues.

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