Saint Paul gives us good advice on this Presidents’ day: “Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” (James 1:2)
The online definition of perseverance is “persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.” It is one of the key elements to success — hitting the wall, falling down, failing, but persevering when everyone else would have given up
Doris Kearns Goodwin writes of the Presidents she describes her latest book, Leadership in Turbulent Times, “with perseverance and hard work, they all essentially made themselves leaders by enhancing and developing the qualities they were given.”
Like the young man whose mother died when he was nine years old, and whose sister Sara died in childbirth not long after. He could have given up, but he stubbornly pushed on.
His father was an illiterate and roughly hewn man, keeping all his son’s wages until he was 21 and discouraging him from reading. And so the young man had less than one year in grade school. And so, he wrote, he would always feel inferior to others, his back woods dialect and gawky appearance making him the but of others jokes, a frequent theme of cartoonists when he eventually started to make something of himself. They drew him as a gorilla and an uneducated and ignorant country bumpkin way out of his league. He could have given up, but he stubbornly pushed on.
So, as a teenager he fell in love with Anna and they planned a life together, but she too died at the age of 22. He could have given up, but he stubbornly pushed on.
Eventually he did marry and had four sons. Eddie, whom he and Mary named after a close friend, was their second. He died of tuberculosis, one month before his 4th birthday. Willie was their third child and he died at 13 of typhoid fever from drinking contaminated water from a river not far from their house. He could have given up, but he stubbornly pushed on.
He lost eight elections and he suffered such a severe nervous collapse that he was bedridden for six months. He could have given up, but he stubbornly pushed on.
Abraham Lincoln Pushed on to become one of the most admired presidents in our history. So, on this Presidents Day, make a resolution: that the next time you become discouraged and are convinced that life has defeated you, remember Saint Paul’s urging you to persevere, and remember what Abraham Lincoln wrote to a friend 165 years ago:
I am a patient man -- always willing to forgive on the Christian terms of repentance; and also to give ample time for repentance. Still I must save this government if possible. What I cannot do, of course I will not do; but it may as well be understood, once for all, that I shall not surrender this game leaving any available card unplayed. (July 26, 1862 Letter to Reveredy Johnson)