Last night the Chinese couple Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo won an Olympic gold medal in the pairs free program figure skating competition. That’s a major accomplishment. But when you realize they had been skating for the gold for 18 years and both were in their 30s, it’s close to miraculous.

18 Years to Win Gold

As I listened to the announcer, I could not keep from asking several questions:

  • I wonder how those skaters could make such a commitment when so many pastors find it easier to bounce from church to church rather than to pursue a life-long dream in the same place?
  • I wonder why so few pastors have the stick-to-it-ness needed to grow a great church and great people?
  • I wonder what it would take to instill that kind of commitment into our pastors?
  • I wonder how many pastors give up just before breaking through?

Then I thought of Moses at year 39.  How did he know it was year 39 just before year 40? What if he had given up at year 39?

Then I thought of Nelson Mandela, one of my long distant heroes.  How did he know it was year 26 and that he would be out in year 27?  How could he have known that two years later he would be president of the same country that locked him in prison for 27 years?

The answer to the questions about Moses and Mandela is this: they didn’t know God was about to act. They just knew that God would act and that God’s timing is all that matters. Our role is to hang tough, no matter what.

There is a great lesson to be learned from the Chinese couple, Moses, and Mandela – If you believe in something, never give up on your dream. Never! What if the Chinese couple hadn’t come back out of retirement for one more shot at the gold? What if Moses had turned back before year 40? What if Mandela had given up in year 26? Everything would be different, not just for them, but for the rest of humanity.

So, the next time you’re about to quit and throw in the towel, ask yourself, “Do I really believe that what I’m doing is life-altering? If so, hang on – it may be year 17, year 39, or year 26 and God’s good work may be just around the corner.

Question: What other examples of people with great endurance can you think of? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

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