Life is difficult. And the things that mean the most in life are the hardest. In fact, anything worth doing is difficult. There’s just no way around it.
Unfortunately, quitting is an easily learned habit by young males. We learn early in life to take the easiest route and avoid anything unpleasant. Boys who are rescued too often learn to quit. Then anytime something becomes difficult in life they quit or take pains to avoid it. They become conditioned or programmed to expect someone else (generally a woman) to come along and take care of it for them. Boys like this struggle throughout life and the people who depend on them suffer most.
For instance, how difficult is marriage? It’s very difficult in my experience. How hard is raising a family? Raising a family may be one of the toughest tasks on the planet. How about working at a job you hate in order to feed your family? From experience I know it is extremely difficult. So for a boy who’s learned to quit, what happens the first time marriage becomes difficult? He quits. What about when raising his family is hard? He leaves. How about having to work a job he hates to feed his family? Often, a man without the quality of perseverance quits, causing his family to suffer economic, if not psychological, hardships.
Additionally, boys who are rescued too often are never allowed to fail and thus never learn to persevere through difficulties until they achieve success. This process is what develops healthy self-esteem in males. By failing and then getting back up and persevering to success is how males feel adequate and competent—two very important factors in the healthy ego development of boys and men.
Your son needs to learn that people will depend upon him his entire life. His wife and children will need him to be dependable and dedicated to their well-being. His coworkers or employees will depend upon him for their livelihood. And if you’ve read any of my other books for men you know that I believe men have been endowed with the God-given ability to enrich and lift up the lives of others to become more than they could possibly be without him in their lives. But this ability requires a certain commitment and dedication in order to be accessed.
To have perseverance is to have a certain measure of steadfastness and dedication. The roots of the word steadfast are “stead” (place) and “fast” (fixed, unmoving). To be steadfast requires a man to be fixed in place like a wall of dependability. Our country needs men who will stand fast against evil. Our culture has been slowly and steadily grinding away the moral values that make civilization work. Men who stand firm for traditional values and moral integrity face challenges today. We are attacked when we stand for what is virtuous, good, and moral. Boys especially are made fun of if they are considered too “wholesome.” Perhaps it’s because those of us who live life using godly philosophies (just by our presence alone) stand as a form of accusation against people who live lives apart from Christ. It seems that anytime a person tries to live a superior life, others line up to try to tear him down. In the alcoholic home I was raised in, I was accused of thinking I was “better” than my parents because I chose to live a different lifestyle than they lived. My parents seemed to relish my failures and be resentful of my successes.
That continuous cultural onslaught requires a man to be resolutely faithful or he will eventually cave in. He will become depleted physically, emotionally drained, mentally depressed, and ready to give up unless he is adamant and unwavering in his commitments. He will fall prey to life’s temptations of infidelity, apathy, and pride. His allegiance to what is right must be enduring and staunch. He must be relentless in his pursuit of honorable stability or he will fall like a once-mighty oak tree and those who depend on him will be washed away like the eroded banks of a stream. Without the traits of steadfastness and dedication, he and those who depend upon him will fall.
Boys who have learned to quit never become effective leaders, they never become heroes. They never accomplish anything worthwhile because they do not have the intestinal fortitude to continue on when things are tough. They have learned to quit and avoid anything unpleasant like it was the plague. Being professional (no matter what we do) means playing the hand you are dealt. Life is difficult. Quitting never solved anything.
Perseverance is a battle a man has with himself. Ed Cole said, “Whenever we are faced with difficult circumstances (trials, temptations, testing) the greatest challenges do not come from external foes or formidable circumstances, but from within our own soul.”
And thus, men who do not have the ability to persevere through difficult circumstances are unable to achieve anything of significance in life.
Excerpted from Rick’s upcoming book, The Making of a Man: Strategies to help your son succeed in life, by Revell Publishing. Due for release June 1, 2013.