Sermons

Summary: There will be obstacles, setbacks, challenges throughout our lives. It’s especially true if you are on a quest for the Lord. By developing tenacity, we can give ourselves the fuel to keep going. It will help in the short term to overcome the daily distractions.

Over the last two weeks, we have discussed two of the important aspects of developing the quality of Tenacity - Connection and Control.

The definition of the word is: the quality or fact of being able to grip something firmly; the quality or fact of being very determined; the quality or fact of continuing to exist; persistence.

If you were going to point to the most tenacious person you know? Who would that be?

When I think of tenacity, I think of a situation I was exposed to in a movie with Tom Hanks - Apollo 13. For those who haven’t seen the movie or remember the story of the 1970’s the ill-fated flight of Apollo 13.

That mission was crippled by an explosion while en route to the moon and nearly 200,000 miles from Earth. The story was of an incredible team of astronauts as well as the incredible team of flight controllers who worked round the clock in shifts for 87 hours.

Apollo 13 was the United States’ third mission to land humans on the moon. Launched on 11 April 1970, it followed less than a year after Neil Armstrong’s successful first lunar landing and famous small step. Commander Jim Lovell, a former US navy test pilot and spaceflight veteran, led a crew of two rookie astronauts, Jack Swigert and Fred Haise. Things had gone awry even before launch. Swigert was a late inclusion in the crew, having been swapped in at the last moment to replace his colleague Ken Mattingly who had been exposed to a case of German measles.

Fifty-six hours in, with the crew nearly 200,000 miles from Earth, an explosion in one of Apollo 13’s two oxygen tanks left the command module Odyssey fatally damaged. Coasting in space, with alarms flashing all around them, bleeding oxygen and losing electrical power, Lovell, Swigert and Haise were suddenly in deep trouble.

The lunar landing was called off and over the next four days, the crew and mission control would find themselves fending off deadly threats over and over again. They would solve problems one day, only to discover a host of new complications that might kill the crew the next. But they kept working together, across hundreds of thousands of miles of empty space, with everything against them, until they got the crew all the way back.

On 17 April 1970, with the world watching, Apollo 13 reached Earth again. The capsule, surrounded by an inferno created by the heat of re-entry into the atmosphere, became impossible to contact by radio. At mission control, they watched and waited in silence.The popular retelling goes something like this: Apollo 13 was rescued by an elite team led by flight director, Gene Kranz, for whom failure was “not an option”. The rescue was executed calmly and deftly without any doubts that it would succeed.

But you only have to listen to the opening hours of the mission control recordings and the space-to-ground radio transmissions to know that was not the case….Exemplary leadership is what got them through that first hour. Kranz kept his team and the vehicle together masterfully, buying time enough to start solving the problem. When reviewing the response to sudden crises, we often overlook that chaotic period, simply because it has little real structure and doesn’t appear to move things forward. But preventing a team from disintegrating in the face of an apparently overwhelming challenge is a feat in itself. The average age of the flight control team was 27; some were freshly graduated from university.

“Failure is not an option” could be the greatest rallying cry of the tenacious person. It forces the person and everyone involved to focus on the goal instead of the obstacles. It focuses everyone on achievement instilling confidence /courage.

Tenacity is probably one of the most admirable characters a person can possess. It’s the ability to be determined to do or achieve something regardless of any setbacks.

During the pandemic, some people have not only survived but thrived. They didn’t crumble because they had confidence /courage in God’s care and provision. They took stock of the situation, came before God, analyzed their role and confidently began moving towards the objective.

Today, we will discuss the third aspect of a person with tenacity: confidence /courage. Not the kind of confidence that trash talks but the kind of confidence that sees hardship as a pathway to success.

There are bound to be roadblocks in life. A multi-university study found that people who experience meaningful work are better both at recovering from setbacks and at viewing setbacks as learning opportunities. So when those setbacks occur, refocus the situation by asking, "What could I have done differently? What will I do differently next time?"

There will be obstacles, setbacks, challenges throughout our lives. It’s especially true if you are on a quest for the Lord. By developing tenacity, we can give ourselves the fuel to keep going. It will help in the short term to overcome the daily distractions. And it will help us long-term as we stay focused and motivated to achieve our calling.

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