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Consistency (Yawn)

t1_ripken.jpg“Given his history of injuries, and his familiarity with the grind of a 162-game season, he seems especially impressed with the toughness and durability of Ripken. “He was just a consistent player—he was the grinder. He just went out every day and did his job. He’s probably the most consistent guy, because that’s what he was—Mr. Consistency. He was in there every day, and he just grinded it out.”  So said Fred Lynn, 1975 American League MVP and Rookie of the Year, in an interview with Sean Kennedy.  Consistency.  (Yawn.  How boring.)

Success for any endeavor hinges on many things. Some say it is cleverness. Others say it takes motivation. Others believe it to be money, favor, chance, or good looks. But in the entire spectrum of human activity, one virtue always shows up in the equation. It’s called consistency. It is the one trait that makes everything else work. “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:58

We know consistency is important. Yet, maintaining it often requires agonizing struggle. Why? If we personalize consistency, several reasons present themselves.

Self-image is a huge problem for consistency. It sees itself as a stepchild in the family of behavioral traits. Other qualities always get more attention. No one loves consistency like they do a charismatic personality, a brilliant playmaker, a talented performer or a guy who can bankroll a project. Because it lives in the shadows of more exciting and celebrated family members, consistency often considers itself unimportant.

Moreover, consistency carries other baggage that makes its job equally hard. It is frequently told that it is too weak, too tired, too anemic and too sick to carry on. It is informed that the mountain is too high, the valley too low, the river too wide, the current too strong, the costs too great and the help too meager to succeed.

A constant barrage of temptations to quit rails on consistency. It feels overlooked, unappreciated and unfairly used. It continually hears itself called worthless, silly and stupid. It rarely sees the fruits of its labor on a daily basis. Without an encouraging word, it regularly feels like throwing in the towel.

But let me tell you the real truth about consistency, not in baseball, but in church work. Pastors, Sunday School superintendents and other church leaders value consistency as much or more than any other trait. They know that brilliant, innovative and talented people often fizzle as quickly as they rise. Music directors like great voices, but they realize that choirs depend upon those faithful, regular, consistent members who never miss a practice. Pastors love ushers whom they don’t have to call every service to see if they will be in attendance. They appreciate tithe-payers who may not have a big amount to give, but their envelopes are there every week. They are grateful for the consistent saints who make it to church rain or shine, sick or well, rich or poor. Outreach directors thank God for the person who goes out on visitation without fail.

It may take a while, but consistency builds its equity over time. Like the stock that the investor sticks with over the long haul, it eventually pays handsome dividends. It may not break records, draw standing ovations or leave them rolling in the aisles, but it gets the tough jobs done year in and year out.

The inconsistent person blames people and circumstances for failure, but he really falls prey to his own inconsistency. The scared, the temperamental, the distracted, the erratic and the in-and-outer create impossible legacies for themselves. They can’t trust themselves to follow through, keep going, hang on and do things right. They are like the halfback who runs tentatively for fear of fumbling the football. Or the infielder who lets the grounder get by him due to lack of confidence. The inconsistent lose before they ever get started.

On the other hand, the believer who builds consistency into his life will always win the battle. When he gets started on something, the notion to quit never enters his mind. He expects it to be tough. He anticipates long, dry spells. But he sees the sweetness of consistent living as its own reward. Satan trembles when a consistent saint of God embarks on a spiritual quest. He knows consistency is formidable.

Cultivate consistency. It wins ballgames.  Even though you consider yourself a person of average ability, consistency makes you superior. You will discover that, whether it graces your personal life, your walk with God, your service in the church or your ministry, it will be the ingredient most vital to your ultimate victory.

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