Persistance Trumps Intensity

How badly do you want it? No matter what “it” is, there are only two ways to answer that question. 

The first is to answer with momentary intensity – I want it bad! I want it now! Your desire is intense and all consuming, yet ultimately fleeting. You want something else just as badly a few days or weeks down the road.

The second way to answer the question, ‘How badly do you want it,’ is with consistent, persistant pursuit. The internal fire of this answer may not be quite so spectacular as the first, but it is far more constant. And far more useful. This kind of answer perseveres in hard times and doesn’t ever quit. This answer is the thousands of minute decisions that serve the purpose of fulfilling a larger goal. This is the only answer that has ever brought meaningful and beneficial change to the world.

To paraphrase a popular Russian proverb, “The quality of a man’s character is not in the intensity of his emotion, but in its duration.” It doesn’t matter how much you want “it” right now – how much do you want “it” next month? Next year? Next decade? Only a sustained focus will take you to those extraordinary places you want to go.

I’ve purposefully left “it” up to your imagination, for this concept applies to many different situations – following Jesus, pursuing revival, starting your own business, traveling the world, learning to play the guitar, loosing weight. In our instant everything society we have developed collective ADD. Trends, fads and fashions come and going with alarming speed and regularity – who the heck is One Direction and does anyone remember Hanson? 

I wonder if the recent surge in popularity of the more liturgical mainline denominations (Catholic, Orthodox, Episcopalian)  has more to do with their cultural steadfastness than their superior theology? 

In any event, persistance over time, a long obedience in the same direction as Eugene Peterson might say, is the only way to a truly transformed life. Emotional intensity is a beautiful thing, but if it isn’t paired with pragmatic, dogged determination to continue forward no matter what comes, then it is a beauty that dies before its time. I’d rather chart my course on the map I know to be true than to simply sniff the wind and sail in whatever direction seems most pleasant at the time. And the fascinating thing is, as I continue to choose to go in the same direction over and over again, my emotions come into alignment – they begin to burn with sustained intensity over the things that really matter. 

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