Running With Perseverance

Boy running through field of tall grass
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Perseverance is essential for successful living. It allows us to consistently pursue a goal or unwaveringly live out our beliefs, regardless of obstacles or difficulties. In 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, the apostle Paul compares the pursuit of the Christian life to a footrace. His vivid analogy shows the importance of persevering in the race of faith in order to attain our spiritual reward.

As you teach your children about perseverance, consider these four biblical principles:

Training. Only the foolish attempt to run a marathon without preparation. Simple day-to-day disciplines, such as prayer and studying the Bible, prepare one's faith to endure and help prevent those in the race from being disqualified.

Sustainable pace. Christians sometimes try to accomplish too much too quickly, relying on their own strength rather than on God's. Those runners often find themselves fatigued or burned out. Waiting on the Lord's timing sets an appropriate pace.

Staying the course. In the middle of long races, runners may "hit the wall," a point where they feel physically and emotionally spent. From their perspective, the finish line is far away and quitting is a strong temptation. When Christians continue running, choosing obedience over emotions, they will eventually experience a "second wind," a renewal of God's strength to sustain them.

Strong finish. God uses the challenges of the faith race to develop people to be mature and complete in Him. Just as athletes are crowned with victory wreaths and medals, God rewards those who persevere to the end.

You can use the following activities and discussions to help your child understand and apply these important truths about perseverance.

— Rick Cole

Key Points

  • Maintaining spiritual disciplines and following God's pace helps our faith to endure.
  • When we feel like giving up, God's strength sustains us.
  • God rewards those who persevere to the end.

Family Memory Verse

Hebrews 10:36
"You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised."

Scripture Study

For a more in-depth study on the purpose of family, read these Bible verses:

  • Romans 5:3-4
  • 2 Timothy 4:7-8
  • Hebrews 10:32-36
  • Hebrews 12:1-3
  • James 1:2-4


Preschool Activity
School-Age Activity
Tween Activity
Time With Your Teen


Preschool Activity

Use a puppet and this skit to teach your child about the importance of perseverance.

Puppet: (whispering) Whisper. (Shouting) Shout. (Whispering) Whisper.

Parent: What are you doing?

Puppet: (whispering) I am whispering (shouting) and shouting.

Parent: I know that, but why?

Puppet: (whispering) I'm practicing my quiet voice.

Parent: Why?

Puppet: My mom wants me to take a nap and rest every day.

Parent: What does napping have to do with practicing your quiet voice?

Puppet: If I wake up early from my nap, I can look through books, but I also have to whisper. Rest time is a long time to whisper.

Parent: Do you know what endurance means?

Puppet: Endurance? That's a big word, but it's not as big as klufkeykeykey.

Parent: What does that mean?

Puppet: Nothing. I made it up.

Parent: Well, unlike your pretend word, endurance means something.

Puppet: What does it mean?

Parent: It means doing something that is difficult for a long time.

Puppet: I don't like that word.

Parent: That's too bad because good things come from endurance.

Puppet: Like what?

Parent: Well, like when you must take a break and rest from playing all day.

Puppet: Nothing good can come out of that.

Parent: It's good because your body gets to take a break, and quiet time helps you relax.

Puppet: Hmm, well I do use my body a lot for playing.

Parent: The nap will give you more strength to play.

Puppet: OK. I'll do it.

Parent: Good things do come from endurance.

Puppet: But for now, I'm going to play and be loud. Bye!

Andrea Gutierrez


School-age Activity

Perseverance is a big concept for 4- to 7-year-olds, but they are already learning this skill. Begin a discussion in this way:

  • To persevere means to stay with something even when you don't feel like it. Are you discouraged by having to brush your teeth every day? Do you ever feel you'd rather not have to clean your room after you play? What are some other things you have to do on a regular basis even when you don't feel like it?
  • Even if [insert one responsibility your child mentioned] isn't always fun, why should you do it? [Help your child understand that personal hygiene keeps her healthy; cleaning her room keeps her toys from getting lost or broken; and doing homework gives her the knowledge and skills she'll need in the future.]
  • What does God think about perseverance? [Read the verses listed in the Scripture study above with your child. Explain that God honors those who persevere for His sake.]

Pray with your child: Ask God to help your child persevere through challenges that are part of her everyday world.

—Pam Woody


Tween Activity

Explore the rewards of perseverance with a household candy hunt!

First, buy a bag of "fun-size" candy bars and allot three bars for each child. Write names on the candy bars to show which ones belong to whom, then hide them around your home. Make one bar easy to find for each kid, but hide the others in hard-to-find locations.

Next, set your kids loose hunting for candy! When they're stumped, ask them if they want to give up. If they refuse, give them clues that help them easily find the candy.

Once all the candy is found, ask:

  • Why didn't you give up when it got hard to find your candy? <
  • Not giving up is called "perseverance." What helped you persevere?

Read Hebrews 12:1-3. Discuss the following questions:

  • How is the "race" described here like our hunt for hidden candy?
  • Your reward for persevering today was candy. What kind of rewards do we experience by following Jesus — even when it's hard?
  • How can you persevere as you follow God this week?

Wrap up with prayer, thanking God for the fact that He never gives up on us.

—Mike Nappa


Time With Your Teen

My daughter Selah was a high school senior who longed for a college acceptance letter and a generous financial package. She spent months researching grant opportunities, writing essays, studying for college entrance exams and polishing her résumé. As the stress of senior year peaked, Selah understood in a new way what perseverance really meant. She pressed on in spite of the frustrations and disappointments, continuing to write, to wait and to dream of a college adventure in the South.

Life is full of challenges that require kids and adults alike to persevere. But in today's culture of instant gratification and drive-through demands, your teens also need to understand the importance of perseverance. They may need to labor for a long time without seeing immediate results in their sports, grades and extracurricular activities. They may need to work at a part-time job they don't enjoy, or model perseverance in resisting peer pressure. Start a discussion with your teens about ways to accomplish long-term goals without letting discouragement derail them.

One way to do this is to be honest about sharing situations or obstacles in your own life that still require vigilant effort. Together, research some of God's promises to those who persevere (consider Romans 5:3-4; James 1:2-4; James 5:10-12). Ask your teens, "What goals are you working toward — a college education, a career, maybe even marriage?" Discuss how perseverance will help your teens to accomplish those goals and then agree to encourage one another amid the challenges of life.

Learning about perseverance firsthand certainly paid off for my daughter. Selah not only received the coveted acceptance letter from her dream school, but she was awarded a substantial financial package as well. Perhaps even more important, the perseverance she developed in high school prepared my daughter for success in college and beyond.

—Pam Woody

This article first appeared on ThrivingFamily.com in October 2010. "Preschool Activity" first appeared in Focus on Your Child Early Stages, February 2009. "School-Age Activity" first appeared in Focus on Your Child Discovery Years, February 2009. If you enjoyed this article, read more like it in Focus on the Family's marriage and parenting magazine. Get it delivered to your home by subscribing to it for a gift of any amount.
"Running With Perseverance" © 2010 by Rick Cole; "Preschool Activity," and "School-Age Activity" © 2009 by Focus on the Family. "Tween Activity" © 2010 by Mike Nappa. Used by permission. "Time With Your Teen" © 2010 by Focus on the Family.

Next in this Series: Perseverance

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