“Drudgery is as necessary to call out the treasures of the mind as harrowing and planting those of the earth” (Margaret Fuller).
WITH EVERY PIECE OF INTERESTING WORK IN THE WORLD, THERE IS ALWAYS SOME LESS-THAN-INTERESTING WORK THAT GOES ALONG WITH IT. If a person can’t persevere, the work won’t be finished, no matter how interesting or valuable it may be.
Perseverance is not the primary consideration in our work, of course. Other factors must be considered first. For example, wisdom must precede perseverance. Being persistent in a foolish project is not good. So before we apply perseverance to a task, we must wisely consider whether what we’re doing is right. If it is, we may commit ourselves to the undertaking — and persevere until we reach the goal.
There is hardly anything worth doing that is not fraught with difficulty, so it takes perseverance to push our way through the hardships and finish the job. In fact, the level of difficulty is often a measure of how worthwhile a project is. Free things are usually worth about what we pay for them, and jobs that don’t involve any resistance aren’t usually worth any more than what they cost us. So before we complain about how hard it is to persevere, we should ask whether we’d rather be doing something easy . . . and relatively insignificant.
I hesitate to recommend stubbornness as a character trait, but there is a sense in which it is virtuous. If by stubbornness we mean the dogged determination to keep on working, most of us need to be more stubborn. As someone has said, “We must overcome stubborn facts with a stubborn will.” The good things in life are accomplished by those who were just too tenacious and bullheaded to give up.
James T. White said, “Perseverance is the statesman’s brain, the warrior’s sword, the inventor’s secret, and the scholar’s open sesame.” Very often, we find it to be the critical hinge on which everything else turns. And truly, perseverance is a matter of character. Do we have what it takes to keep going when weaker individuals would lie down and quit? So the next time you are tempted to give up, I urge you to stop and ask yourself, “What kind of stuff am I made out of, anyway?”
“Perseverance is the grindstone saying to the axe, ‘You are hard, but I am harder. I will wear you away’ ” (James T. White).