Morally Courageous Persistence

There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.

Luke 18:2-5

Is it good to be persistent? Is there virtue in persistence? Can being persistent ever be wrong or destructive?

Stories of persistence in the face of obstacles is what inspires us. Take for example Minda Dentler, a polio survivor, who set out to complete an Iron Man…without the use of her legs. Her first attempt was unsuccessful, but she persisted and conquered after trying again.

How about Diana Nyad? At 60, she attempted her longest swim yet, from Cuba to Florida. She didn’t make it all the way across, but I didn’t see that as a failure. I was still inspired by her efforts and her attitude.

But then, 4 years later, she attempted the 100 mile swim again. I cried when I listened to her tell her story. I was so moved by her persistence to keep trying.

I’ve been wanting to teach an adult religion class for my stake for quite some time now. Teaching from the scriptures is something that I’m good at and that I enjoy. I have had opportunities to teach on adult classes on Sundays at my Church and that experience has been fulfilling, but my teaching opportunities are limited to once every couple months. I felt like I had room in my life for more and so I wanted to fill it with something that I enjoyed and that I felt could create goodness and could make a difference. I had once been hired to teach seminary, to high school age youth, full time for Church Educational System but I didn’t really want to go back to teaching full time and though I am good at teaching, my ability to teach teenagers is lacking. So a weekly adult religion class sounded perfect. But typically formal service, such as callings, isn’t something something you just apply for or send in a resume. Formal service within the Church is culturally offered to you, not volunteered for. It’s not normal, though not necessarily always inappropriate, to go and ask for a specific service opportunity.

After some thought I decided to go against tradition and I asked the Stake President about teaching an adult religion class for our stake. There were a few conversations and some efforts made but nothing ever came from it. A couple years later a new stake President was called. I still wanted to find an opportunity to teach on a more regular basis so decided to set up a time to meet with the new Stake President to share my thoughts and desire to teach with him. He was very kind and listened to my desire to teach and said that he would look into it and get back with me. And then I heard nothing. About six months later I decided to reach out to him again. I sent him an email and asked about his decision. He apologized and said that he hadn’t given it any thought yet and that he would get right on it. A couple weeks later I meet with one his counselors in the Stake Presidency with whom I shared yet again my desire to teach an adult religion class. He said he would look into it. I still haven’t heard back and we’re going on two month now.

What if I was more persistent? What if I keep on them until they made something happen? What if I found all the information they needed to get an adult religion class started and handed it to them? I’m sure by my own efforts I could pressure them into making the adult religion class happen. The only thing that is slowing me down is that I’m not sure at what point my actions are crossing the boundary between morally honorable persistence and manipulative self-serving gratification.

It’s not the action alone that defines virtue, but it’s motivation driving the action that defines whether or not there is virtue and goodness is the action.

August 11, 2019

Today: 30 min

Total: 6 hrs 30 min