- Youth Ministry Podcast, Episode 2 – How to Recruit, Train & Equip Volunteers
- Youth Ministry Podcast – Tips for Building Relationships with Students
Bible: Hebrews 12:1-2; 2 Timothy 4:7; Romans 5:3-5
Bottom Line: Perseverance is hard, but it is important. It is possible to persevere through hard times because rather than destroying us it can build character, because Jesus persevered for us, and because we know who Jesus is and who we are through Him. If you keep persevering, you cannot fail.
Plastic cups (enough for every student)
Bowls (enough for each team of two)
Split the students into groups of two. Give each team two plastic cups, a bowl, and some marshmallows.
Have the teams start arms length apart, each holding a plastic cup. They must toss a marshmallow from one plastic cup to the other.
Once they successfully get the marshmallow transferred between cups, they must put it in their team’s bowl.
After that, one team member must take a step back before they toss the next marshmallow. Once they successfully toss the marshmallow from one cup to the next, they put it in the bowl.
For every marshmallow that hits the ground, they must remove one from their bowl.
This continues until the team is ten steps apart and has ten marshmallows in their bowl. If all the marshmallows have been removed by the time they get ten steps apart, the must continue tossing from this length until they get ten marshmallows in their bowl.
Once they have ten marshmallows, they must eat them all.
The first team to get ten marshmallows in their bowl and eat them all wins!
Do you know what’s pretty fun? Eating marshmallows.
Do you know what’s not pretty fun? Not being able to eat marshmallows until you perfect tossing them between cups.
Perseverance really isn’t a fun topic to talk about, because it’s hard. It’s hard to persevere through hard times. It’s hard to press on when things are tough. There’s really nothing fun about it, but it’s incredibly important.
In the dictionary, perseverance is defined as “steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.”
Steadfastness. Staying steady. Holding steadfast to something and sticking out the situations that are difficult, where success seems really far away.
So tonight, while we talk about perseverance, I want you to be thinking about the answer to this question: What are you holding steadfast to?
Read 2 Timothy 4:7 – “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
Have you ever heard that verse before? It’s the essence of perseverance. Fighting the good fight, finishing the race of life, and keeping the faith the whole time.
Don’t you want to be able to say that? When you get to the end of your life, don’t you want to be able to confidently say that you persevered through the hard circumstance, that you kept fighting your way through the tough times? Or do you want to look back on your life and just see time after time where you chose quitting over perseverance?
Perseverance is really, really hard. But it is possible! Let’s look at why it’s possible to persevere through hard times.
Read Hebrews 12:1-2 – “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Here, the race comes up again. And here, we see that in order to run the race marked out for us, we have to have perseverance. But that’s not all we see in this verse.
We see that not only do we need to have perseverance, but that we need to fix our eyes on Jesus. Why? Because He persevered.
Look at that—for the joy set before Him, He endured the cross.
Jesus endured so much for us. He had to go through far worse than any of us will ever have to go through. He persevered for us.
Jesus is the example we are supposed to follow. He is the pioneer and perfecter of faith, and we see here just how much He endured. So we know that it’s possible to persevere through hard, tough, sometimes even terrible situations, because He persevered for us. So we can certainly persevere for Him.
Romans 5:3-5 – Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
When perseverance is necessary, it’s usually because there’s some sort of suffering involved. We’re suffering through a tough situation, suffering through a confusing time, suffering through a time where accomplishing anything seems very far off. So suffering causes the need for perseverance.
So what does perseverance cause?
Character, which causes hope. So having perseverance leads to hope. And not just any hope—hope that doesn’t put us to shame, because it’s the hope of God’s love, which He’s poured into our hearts.
So no, perseverance isn’t really fun to think about. And it’s certainly not fun to have to do. But the result of perseverance is a really beautiful, incredible form of hope. And it is well worth it.
Romans 5:6-8 – “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Jesus Christ died for you. Before you were godly, before you were righteous, and while you were still a powerless sinner, Jesus Christ died for you. Why? Because He loves you with a crazy, overwhelming kind of love.
If you were worth dying for, you must be pretty amazing.
Knowing who Jesus is—the King and Savior of us all—and knowing what He did for us should give us confidence to persevere.
We know we can persevere through anything, because Jesus knows we can. He gave His life for us because He thought we were worth it. Knowing that, there’s no other choice but to persevere and keep running the race He has marked out for us!
I want to show you a video that I think really highlights perseverance and why it’s so important.
Play this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_IpQLkxqIKA
If there’s anything we can learn from that video, it’s that if you keep persevering, you cannot fail. Did he win? No, he didn’t. In fact, he came in last place. But did he fail? Absolutely not.Because He ran the race and fought the fight, even when his race got incredibly difficult. He finished the race.
Just like that man’s father came to help Him, our heavenly Father helps us. His father couldn’t do it for him, and he couldn’t take his pain away or make it any easier, but he could walk right beside him and encourage him.
When we persevere in life, even when it’s incredibly hard we know that God is walking right beside us, cheering us on, and helping us persevere.
It’s not worth it to give up. It may feel like it, and there may be times where you don’t know how you can possibly keep going. Quitting may sound like a really incredible idea at some points in a tough situation.
When that happens, you just have to remember: if you do not quit, if you keep persevering, then you cannot fail.
Have there been times in your life where you had to choose if you were going to persevere or quit? What did you choose?
Does knowing that Jesus persevered for you make you want to persevere for Him?
At the end of your life, do you want to be able to say you fought the good fight, finished your race, and kept your faith? If so, do you think you’ll need perseverance to be able to do that?
When you think of how much Jesus had to endure and persevere through, does that make the situations you have to persevere through seem less difficult?
Perseverance can sometimes be viewed in a negative way because it implies hard situations. Now that you know it leads to hope, does it seem like more of a positive thing to you?
Does knowing that Jesus died for you make you feel more confident?
Have you ever had an experience where you feel like the fact that you persevered through a situation built character?
Do you agree that you should keep your eyes on Jesus while you are running the race of life?
Do you think Jesus is a good example of how we should persevere and run our race? Why?
Do you think that persevering and keeping our faith is something that makes Jesus happy? Does that make you want to do it more?
Do you remember the question I asked you at the beginning of tonight? I asked what it was that you were holding steadfast to.
So, what is it? When you’re in a time that is hard, what do you hold on to?
Is it selfishness? Wanting to get out of the situation by making it as easy as possible for yourself?
Is it a friend? Clinging to friendship to help you get through a situation?
Is it Jesus? Fixing your eyes on Him and holding steadfast to Him while you persevere through tough circumstances? Because that’s what it should be.
All that you’ve learned tonight doesn’t make perseverance any more fun. It isn’t going to make the next tough situation you go through any less tough. It isn’t going to make a hard time into sunshine and butterflies.
But now you know that it’s possible to persevere, and you have some reasons to persevere. You know that Jesus persevered for you, and He’s there to encourage you as you persevere for Him.
You can persevere, or you can be a quitter. Those are really the only choices you have when it comes to hard times and tough circumstances. Sure, it’s going to be tempting to quit sometimes. But when that happens, just remember all we’ve talked about tonight. Remember who is on your side and what’s at stake.
And remember: if you don’t quit, you can’t fail. If you keep going, if you persevere, then you win no matter what. And that is so much better than quitting.
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