The Persistence Principle

by Shannon Wagers

This Sunday, the lead pastor at Christ’s Church, Trevor DeVage, will close out the “Breaking Bad” sermon series centering on Galatians 6:7-10. We know from God’s Word there are many opportunities in front of us to plant seeds of hope every day. The seeds we plant today God may use to bring a harvest tomorrow, or someday far in the future. Our job is simply to be faithful in the planting.

This One Is Personal

I have been honored to share my thoughts via the Christ’s Church blog on a number of occasions. This one is likely the most personal one I will ever write. If there is ever a life word or concept that has defined me, it is the word “Persistence.” I’ve never been a quitter. In fact, I couldn’t tell you last time I quit something. Don’t get me wrong—there is a time to leave things behind. One of my favorite books ever is Quitter, written by my friend, New York Times best-selling author Jon Acuff.

In Quitter, Jon shares, “Hustle isn’t just doing the things you love all the time. Hustle is doing the things you don’t enjoy sometimes to earn the right to do the things you love.

I really identified with this statement a decade ago when this book was released. I was just beginning a journey of discovering my path to doing what I love every day at Procter & Gamble. I have a bachelor of science degree in chemistry and I’ve been able to work on some truly amazing products from P&G. It’s an amazing feeling to see a product that you delivered to the marketplace on the grocery store shelf. I admit it: More than once I’ve spied on consumers while they were shopping. I’ve secretly observed them perusing the shelves and given a big old “Yes!” on the inside when they’ve put those products I’ve worked on in their carts. Here’s the thing: With all those “Yeses”—seeing my company’s stock price go up, and getting both internal and external recognition—there was something in me that wasn’t clicking. Don’t get me wrong, I liked what did. It was my dream to land a job with P&G out of college, but something started to feel off in me.

While reading Quitter, another quote stuck with me: “I don’t want you to wake up at sixty-five and realize, ‘I spend forty of my best years doing something that just funded my life.’”

This, among other things, motivated me to start to explore what I would call my “next thing” at the time. That next thing became Creative Problem Solving Facilitation at the P&G Innovation lab called “The GYM” six years later in 2017.

Seeds Planted

I began my journey over ten years ago to arrive at what many would call my dream job at P&G. It wasn’t easy or an overnight success. I had to put the work in. There were countless conversations with God along the way: “Should I just quit?” “Is this really the path?” Let’s not forget the plenty of “Nos” I heard too. But in this I remained determined, and I persisted. I held my faith that God brought me through other experiences in life to prepare me for this one, even if it was just starting. I had to transform the “Nos” into “Not yets.” I was not going to give up or quit, as I was inspired by Galatians 6:9, which challenges us with this directive, “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up” (NLT).

Abundant Harvest

I can’t really explain how I knew I had found my “next thing,” but I literally came home one day, and I knew I had found it. I tempered my thoughts with another quote from Jon Acuff’s next book, Start.: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average, and Do Work That Matters.

The problem is we don’t think we should be awesome right now, right here. We have jobs that don’t completely fit our dream, so we don’t completely lean into them. Here’s the thing, if you want to be awesome later, be awesome now. Be amazing at the job you have, regardless of what that job is. Be great at the little things in hopes that the big things will come someday, if not in ten years. Don’t ever half do a job hoping you’ll whole do a dream. Quit trying to be awesome later. Be awesome now.

God blessed me with another encounter, meeting another friend in Rory VadenNYT best-selling author of Take the Stairs. In this book, one of his great insights he calls The Rent Axiom—Success is never owned, it is only rented—and the rent is due every day.”

With God’s guidance, I put the work in, even on my own personal time. I fell, I failed, and I had letdowns along the way—but I didn’t quit on what God started in me. God provided the path the entire way with each new skill learned, experiences to grow from, and incredible mentors such as my dear friend Dr. Min Basadur. I celebrate an abundant harvest today because of nurturing the seeds planted years ago with faith in God. His Word promises in Philippians 1:6, “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns” (NLT).

More Than You Could Ever Know

I have been fortunate and blessed by God to do the work I get to do every day. Even more so by sharing my faith with others via opportunities in writing for Christ’s Church’s blog and by leading groups in studying his Word.

I recall one evening in a small group setting. We were discussing God’s faithfulness, and I mentioned there were things in my life that I had been praying for over a decade—things like relationships with others, being in the right role with work, even becoming a parent. A dear friend was amazed I could even say this—but it was completely true! I can share today that many of those things have since been resolved by God with great peace and joy simply because I persisted in my faith.

The greatest example of this in my life is my daughter Katherine. After years of disappointment and heartache, God answered the prayers of my wife and me. Katherine entered into the world on the most fitting evening one could imagine, Christmas Eve, 2019. Reflecting on this journey, my “life verse” has become Ephesians 3:20, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (NIV).

I’ve also discovered my life quote, which happens to be from my favorite U.S. President, Calvin Coolidge:

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On!’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

I encourage you this week to press on with those planted seeds by persisting in your faith in God, imagining what immeasurably more he can and will do.

Shannon Wagers is a Corporate Trainer and Master Facilitator for P&G’s Innovation Lab called “The GYM.” Shannon resides in Liberty Township with his wife Ruth, daughter Katherine, and dog Bear.

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