How to… Stay Determined

When first starting any new endeavor – weight loss, training for a marathon, getting straight A’s, keeping the house picked up, a new job, etc. – determination to stick with the task and finish strong is usually quite high. The determination to stay with it, train consistently, not procrastinate, dust weekly and stay enthused seems like a constantly flowing spring, and you’re completely certain you won’t fail or even let up in your determination.

But not too long after starting, determination often tends to wane. The fact that most people begin giving up on goals within 10 days after starting them speaks to this fact. And we haven’t even mentioned the really big commitments in life – marriage, parenting and friendship, for example.

Fortunately, planning for this inevitable dip in determination can make all the difference in keeping it revved up. A lot of information already exists on how to set and achieve goals, so this post won’t cover that. What it will cover is what the Bible tells us about staying determined.

Let’s look at three individuals in scripture from whom we can learn a lot about how to stay determined regardless of our feelings or surrounding circumstances.

Ezra’s determination teaches us that we must be hearers, doers and teachers of God’s Word and shows us that God blesses that type of determination. (Ezra 7:9-10)

Daniel’s determination shows us that resisting the surrounding culture is not only possible but necessary. (Daniel 1:8)

Paul’s determination illustrates the need for complete focus on the finish line, for knowing our why. (1 Corinthians 9:26)

These men teach us a great deal about staying determined. Above all, their examples show us that we should determine to:

  1. Obey God: Simply make up your mind to do it. (1 Samuel 7:3)
  2. Not Sin: Know your convictions before you are tested. (Job 31:1)
  3. Stand Firm: Stand in faith, and you will be protected. (Isaiah 7:9)
  4. Follow Christ: Let Him lead you in every area of life. (Mark 8:34-38)

Through Ezra’s, Daniel’s and Paul’s examples, we see that staying determined is possible. And scripture clearly indicates where our determination should be focused.

But how do we obtain the type of determination that endures and allows us to finish strong? Let’s again look to Ezra, Daniel & Paul for the answer.

Ezra praised God for giving him favor. Later, he went to the Lord over concerns about the people. (Ezra 7:27-28; Ezra 9)

Daniel had a habit of prayer that he stuck with even in the face of death. (Daniel 6:10)

Paul, who wrote much of the New Testament, often included prayers filled with thanksgiving, prayers for others, as well as prayer requests for his ministry. (See a list of Paul’s prayers on Scripture Zealot.)

So we see that a habit of prayer, praise and thanksgiving were keys to their constant determination. Still today, these habits keep a person centered on God, who promises to help us stay determined.

Isaiah 50:7 says, “For the Lord God helps Me, therefore, I am not disgraced; therefore, I have set my face like flint (a stone), and I know that I will not be ashamed.”

The key, then, to staying determined is twofold. First, know your why. Know for what reason you want to stay determined in order to finish strong. Second, stay connected to God. He promises give you the confidence needed to stay determined.

DISCUSSION: What do you need to do differently to be able to stay determined in all areas of your life?

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10 thoughts on “How to… Stay Determined

  1. I really love these points, Kari – I look forward to checking out the Ezra passage this morning as I'm not familiar with that. I also like the ideas of praise and thanksgiving. I never thought of that in relation to pursuing goals and staying determined but I think you're right. For me also, seeing the situation from God's perspective is also very important in staying determined. I like your "Know your why" point as well – all good things for me to remember. Thanks for an insightful post!

    • Praise… Thanksgiving… God's Perspective… Know your "why"… God has given us all we need in His word to stay determined, hasn't He? I just love how complete His Word is. I love how the OT has come alive to show so much about Him too. God is SO good!

  2. Kari,

    All great points here. Our feelings will have us swing all over the place and our desire to do what we should do will wax and wane with them. I like to think that we have to have "the discipline of the mundane" to counter this. When we are faced with the daily grind, when we don't feel great, when the minutiae wears and grates on us then we have to be disciplined to do what it right to be successful.

    When people see a half finished product that someone has quit on that do not comment on how much work someone did to get to that point they always are lamenting it was not finished. We do not want to spend our time and efforts on uncompleted task; and uncompleted dreams. Do those things you mention above and stay the course to the end.

    • Feelings so often lead us astray, but God's Word never does. I need to ground myself in scripture more just for that reason alone. Just refusing to give up is half if not more of the battle sometimes. God never gives up on us, which is such motivation for me to not give up in life either.

  3. This is great Kari, I think my struggle comes in my knowing my "why." Rarely is my "why" something that is simple between the Lord and me. My "why" is usually motivated by what other people will think. I want to be well-liked with a high approval rating. Those can be strong motivators initially, but not the best for lasting improvement. Working on making God's glory my primary goal. He will give me everything else I need after that.

    • The more I focus on God and His glory, the less the world tends to affect me. His Word is such a calming place for me. Spending time there just makes all those outside pressures and expectations and whatever just fall away. He definitely gives you everything you need!

  4. One of the things that helps me stay determined is to remind myself that the determination comes from the Spirit working in me. For me personally, that tends to give me a second wind.

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