Example #50 Rewarding Perseverance

What if perseverance were acknowledged, not just perfection?

On the wall at the front of Jane’s classroom hangs a photo frame, but it does not contain the class photograph. Above it is a large, vibrant and colourful sign saying ‘FANTABULOUS EFFORT!’. Underneath the frame is a photograph of a boy – one of the little photos routinely taken each year at school. Inside the frame is an exercise book open at a page of work done in mathematics. As I look at the workbook, I expect to see a page with 100% of all calculations correct, but this is far from it. Many of the calculations are not correct, but the comment written by Jane underneath the work says, ‘Well done, Nathan. What an improvement!’

"I did not hang the frame there to display the best work done in the class, but to recognise the effort made by students. It is hung at the front of the room so that it is prominent. I always draw my class' attention to the new entry to the frame. In this case I talked to the whole class about how I could see that Nathan has shown great improvement in subtraction. The class clap and this seems genuine for they all know how it feels to have their effort recognised.

"This public acknowledgement is an important part of the classroom practice as Jane’s class encourage one another and learn to share in each other’s learning, celebrating the small daily accomplishments. That afternoon, Nathan took home a certificate in the shape of a photo frame, stating that his Mathematics subtraction work has today been in The ‘Fantabulous Effort’ Frame."

What’s going on here?

Jane saw her teaching as a chance to encourage pupils whether or not they would achieve high marks, and show that she had noticed and valued them as well as valuing perseverance.

Jane engaged the whole class in actively celebrating hard work from students, and let them experience a reward other than high marks for correct answers.

She reshaped her practice by finding concrete ways to model encouragement, using classroom display and certificates to support encouragement, and planning for how students could encourage each other.

How do I do this myself?

What does this have to do with faith, hope and love?

Perseverance is the virtue that develops character in difficult times. Perseverance is carrying on against the odds. It is linked to patience, faith and trust. Perseverance is a form of strength as it requires the ability to resist temptation. Hope inspires perseverance with the knowledge that we can make a difference with God and the world will not always be as it is. The Bible calls people to persevere in doing good; perseverance in wrong doing is not virtue.

What difference does it make?

Often it is only achievement that is recognised and not effort. High achievement should not be downplayed but in some cases it comes effortlessly from natural ability and does not require character. From the point of view of character development, effort and perseverance can be combined with low or high achievement to develop maturity.

Where could we go from here?

The same idea can be used at higher primary level with the sign reading ‘EFFORT WORTH FRAMING’ or ‘EXEMPLARY/EXCELLENT EFFORT’.

At the annual presentation award ceremony, consider acknowledging effort and perseverance leading to improvement as well as ‘firsts’.

Digging deeper

Perseverance brings about maturity (James 1:2-4) for it is in facing life's difficulties that we grow and our characters deepen (Romans 5:3-4). The Bible calls Christians to persevere in doing what is good and right (2 Thessalonians 3:13), persevering in faith and hope.

God knows our situation; He will not judge us as if we had no difficulties to overcome. What matters is the sincerity and perseverance of our will to overcome them. C. S. Lewis

The Bible likens life to a race in which the runners have to persevere to cross the finish line (Hebrews 12:1). St Paul talks of his own life towards the end as a race faithfully completed (2 Timothy 4:7). It is not about being first past the tape, but completing the marathon of a life lived faithfully to God and others. An example of this was Michael Watson who completed a marathon in 2003 which took him over six days. Michael had suffered horrific brain injuries in the boxing ring and was not expected to live. He lost speech and was six years in a wheelchair. Michael rediscovered his faith in God and he refused to give up, eventually crossing the tape with the man who had injured him and whom he had forgiven many years before (http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/athletics/london_marathon_2003/2958573.stm).

What keeps people going? The answer is a relationship that starts now and continues in a deeper way in another life. C. S. Lewis called this life 'The shadow lands' compared to the depth and reality of the next. St Paul talks of now as seeing in a misty mirror (1 Corinthians 13:12) compared to knowing God face to face. The experience of God now is such that it encourages Christians to persevere in order to know God better. The encouragement and love of others plays a vital role along the way. Christ modelled perseverance (2 Thessalonians 3:5) throughout his life, in the face of temptation, hardship and suffering.

Let us then continually persevere in our hope … Let us then be imitators of His [Christ's] patience; and if we suffer for His name's sake, let us glorify Him. For He has set us this example in Himself, and we have believed that such is the case. Polycarp

Perseverance is more than endurance. It is endurance combined with absolute assurance and certainty that what we are looking for is going to happen. Oswald Chambers

Explore similar examples:

What if anxiety about tests could turn to thankfulness?
What if success in maths depended on forgiveness?
What if revision classes taught students to share each other’s burdens?

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1From James, a servant of God and of our Lord Jesus Christ. Greetings to the twelve tribes scattered all over the world. 2My friends, be glad, even if you have a lot of trouble. 3You know that you learn to endure by having your faith tested. 4But you must learn to endure everything, so that you will be completely mature and not lacking in anything. 5If any of you need wisdom, you should ask God, and it will be given to you. God is generous and won't correct you for asking. 6But when you ask for something, you must have faith and not doubt. Anyone who doubts is like an ocean wave tossed around in a storm. 7If you are that kind of person, you can't make up your mind, and you can't be trusted. So don't expect the Lord to give you anything at all. Poor people and rich people 9Any of God's people who are poor should be glad that he thinks so highly of them. 10But any who are rich should be glad when God makes them humble. Rich people will disappear like wild flowers 11scorched by the burning heat of the sun. The flowers lose their blossoms, and their beauty is destroyed. That is how the rich will disappear, as they go about their business. Trials and temptations 12God will bless you, if you don't give up when your faith is being tested. He will reward you with a glorious life, just as he rewards everyone who loves him. 13Don't blame God when you are tempted! God cannot be tempted by evil, and he doesn't use evil to tempt others. 14We are tempted by our own desires that drag us off and trap us. 15Our desires make us sin, and when sin is finished with us, it leaves us dead. 16Don't be fooled, my dear friends. 17Every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father who created all the lights in the heavens. He is always the same and never makes dark shadows by changing. 18He wanted us to be his own special people, and so he sent the true message to give us new birth. 19My dear friends, you should be quick to listen and slow to speak or to get angry. 20If you are angry, you cannot do any of the good things that God wants done. 21You must stop doing anything immoral or evil. Instead be humble and accept the message that is planted in you to save you. 22Obey God's message! Don't fool yourselves by just listening to it. 23If you hear the message and don't obey it, you are like people who stare at themselves in a mirror 24and forget what they look like as soon as they leave. 25But you must never stop looking at the perfect law that sets you free. God will bless you in everything you do, if you listen and obey, and don't just hear and forget. 26If you think you are being religious, but can't control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and everything you do is useless. 27Religion that pleases God the Father must be pure and spotless. You must help needy orphans and widows and not let this world make you evil. Warning against having favourites
1By faith we have been made acceptable to God. And now, because of our Lord Jesus Christ, we live at peace with God. 2Christ has also introduced us to God's undeserved kindness on which we take our stand. So we are happy, as we look forward to sharing in the glory of God. 3But that's not all! We gladly suffer, because we know that suffering helps us to endure. 4And endurance builds character, which gives us a hope 5that will never disappoint us. All this happens because God has given us the Holy Spirit, who fills our hearts with his love. 6Christ died for us at a time when we were helpless and sinful. 7No one is really willing to die for an honest person, though someone might be willing to die for a truly good person. 8But God showed how much he loved us by having Christ die for us, even though we were sinful. 9But there is more! Now that God has accepted us because Christ sacrificed his life's blood, we will also be kept safe from God's anger. 10Even when we were God's enemies, he made peace with us, because his Son died for us. Yet something even greater than friendship is ours. Now that we are at peace with God, we will be saved by his Son's life. 11And in addition to everything else, we are happy because God sent our Lord Jesus Christ to make peace with us. Adam and Christ 12Adam sinned, and that sin brought death into the world. Now everyone has sinned, and so everyone must die. 13Sin was in the world before the Law came. But no record of sin was kept, because there was no Law. 14Yet death still had power over all who lived from the time of Adam to the time of Moses. This happened, though not everyone disobeyed a direct command from God, as Adam did. In some ways Adam is like Christ who came later. 15But the gift that God was kind enough to give was very different from Adam's sin. That one sin brought death to many others. Yet in an even greater way, Jesus Christ alone brought God's gift of kindness to many people. 16There is a lot of difference between Adam's sin and God's gift. That one sin led to punishment. But God's gift made it possible for us to be acceptable to him, even though we have sinned many times. 17Death ruled like a king because Adam had sinned. But that cannot compare with what Jesus Christ has done. God has been so kind to us, and he has accepted us because of Jesus. And so we will live and rule like kings. 18Everyone was going to be punished because Adam sinned. But because of the good thing that Christ has done, God accepts us and gives us the gift of life. 19Adam disobeyed God and caused many others to be sinners. But Jesus obeyed him and will make many people acceptable to God. 20The Law came, so that the full power of sin could be seen. Yet where sin was powerful, God's kindness was even more powerful. 21Sin ruled by means of death. But God's kindness now rules, and God has accepted us because of Jesus Christ our Lord. This means that we will have eternal life. Dead to sin but alive because of Christ
1Finally, our friends, please pray for us. This will help the message about the Lord to spread quickly, and others will respect it, just as you do. 2Pray that we may be kept safe from worthless and evil people. After all, not everyone has faith. 3But the Lord can be trusted to make you strong and protect you from harm. 4He has made us sure that you are obeying what we taught you and that you will keep on obeying. 5I pray that the Lord will guide you to be as loving as God and as patient as Christ. Warnings against laziness 6My dear friends, in the name of the Lord Jesus, I beg you not to have anything to do with any of your people who waste their time and refuse to obey the instructions we gave you. 7You know that you should follow our example. We didn't waste our time being lazy, 8and we didn't accept food from anyone without paying for it. We didn't want to be a burden to any of you, so night and day we worked as hard as we could. 9We had the right not to work, but we wanted to set an example for you. 10We also gave you the rule that if you don't work, you don't eat. 11Now we learn that some of you waste your time and won't do any work, except the work of a busybody. 12So, for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ, we ask and beg these people to settle down and start working for a living. 13Dear friends, you must never become tired of doing right. 14Be on your guard against any followers who refuse to obey what we have written in this letter. Put them to shame by not having anything to do with them. 15Don't consider them your enemies, but speak kindly to them as you would to any other follower. 16I pray that the Lord, who gives peace, will always bless you with peace. May the Lord be with all of you. 17I always sign my letters as I am now doing: PAUL. 18I pray that our Lord Jesus Christ will be kind to all of you.
1Such a large crowd of witnesses is all around us! So we must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially the sin that just won't let go. And we must be determined to run the race that is ahead of us. 2We must keep our eyes on Jesus, who leads us and makes our faith complete. He endured the shame of being nailed to a cross, because he knew that later on he would be glad he did. Now he is seated at the right side of God's throne! 3So keep your mind on Jesus, who put up with many insults from sinners. Then you won't get discouraged and give up. 4None of you have yet been hurt in your battle against sin. 5But you have forgotten that the Scriptures say to God's children, When the Lord punishes you, don't make light of it, and when he corrects you, don't be discouraged. 6The Lord corrects the people he loves and disciplines those he calls his own. 7Be patient when you are being corrected! This is how God treats his children. Don't all parents correct their children? 8God corrects all his children, and if he doesn't correct you, then you don't really belong to him. 9Our earthly fathers correct us, and we still respect them. Isn't it even better to be given true life by letting our spiritual Father correct us? 10Our human fathers correct us for a short time, and they do it as they think best. But God corrects us for our own good, because he wants us to be holy, as he is. 11It is never fun to be corrected. In fact, at the time it is always painful. But if we learn to obey by being corrected, we will do right and live at peace. 12Now stand up straight! Stop your knees from shaking 13and walk a straight path. Then lame people will be healed, instead of getting worse. Warning against turning from God 14Try to live at peace with everyone! Live a clean life. If you don't, you will never see the Lord. 15Make sure that no one misses out on God's wonderful kindness. Don't let anyone become bitter and cause trouble for the rest of you. 16Watch out for immoral and ungodly people like Esau, who sold his future blessing for only one meal. 17You know how he later wanted it back. But there was nothing he could do to change things, even though he begged his father and cried. 18You have not come to a place like Mount Sinai that can be seen and touched. There is no flaming fire or dark cloud or storm 19or trumpet sound. The people of Israel heard a voice speak. But they begged it to stop, 20because they could not obey its commands. They were even told to kill any animal that touched the mountain. 21The sight was so frightening that Moses said he shook with fear. 22You have now come to Mount Zion and to the heavenly Jerusalem. This is the city of the living God, where thousands and thousands of angels have come to celebrate. 23Here you will find all God's dearest children, whose names are written in heaven. And you will find God himself, who judges everyone. Here also are the spirits of those good people who have been made perfect. 24And Jesus is here! He is the one who makes God's new agreement with us, and his sprinkled blood says much better things than the blood of Abel. 25Make sure that you obey the one who speaks to you. The people did not escape, when they refused to obey the one who spoke to them at Mount Sinai. Do you think you can possibly escape, if you refuse to obey the one who speaks to you from heaven? 26When God spoke the first time, his voice shook only the earth. This time he has promised to shake the earth once again, and heaven too. 27The words once again mean that these created things will some day be shaken and removed. Then what cannot be shaken will last. 28We should be grateful that we were given a kingdom that cannot be shaken. And in this kingdom we please God by worshipping him and by showing him great honour and respect. 29Our God is like a destructive fire! Service that pleases God
1When Christ Jesus comes as king, he will be the judge of everyone, whether they are living or dead. So with God and Christ as witnesses, I command you 2to preach God's message. Do it willingly, even if it isn't the popular thing to do. You must correct people and point out their sins. But also cheer them up, and when you instruct them, always be patient. 3The time is coming when people won't listen to good teaching. Instead, they will look for teachers who will please them by telling them only what they are itching to hear. 4They will turn from the truth and eagerly listen to senseless stories. 5But you must stay calm and be willing to suffer. You must work hard to tell the good news and to do your job well. 6Now the time has come for me to die. My life is like a drink offering being poured out on the altar. 7I have fought well. I have finished the race, and I have been faithful. 8So a crown will be given to me for pleasing the Lord. He judges fairly, and on the day of judgment he will give a crown to me and to everyone else who wants him to appear with power. Personal instructions 9Come to see me as soon as you can. 10Demas loves the things of this world so much that he left me and went to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus has gone to Dalmatia. 11Only Luke has stayed with me. Mark can be very helpful to me, so please find him and bring him with you. 12I sent Tychicus to Ephesus. 13When you come, bring the coat I left at Troas with Carpus. Don't forget to bring the scrolls, especially the ones made of leather. 14Alexander, the metalworker, has hurt me in many ways. But the Lord will pay him back for what he has done. 15Alexander opposes what we preach. You had better watch out for him. 16When I was first put on trial, no one helped me. In fact, everyone deserted me. I hope it won't be held against them. 17But the Lord stood beside me. He gave me the strength to tell his full message, so that all Gentiles would hear it. And I was kept safe from hungry lions. 18The Lord will always keep me from being harmed by evil, and he will bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. Praise him for ever and ever! Amen. Final greetings 19Give my greetings to Priscilla and Aquila and to the family of Onesiphorus. 20Erastus stayed at Corinth. Trophimus was sick when I left him at Miletus. 21Do your best to come before winter. Eubulus, Pudens, Linus, and Claudia send you their greetings, and so do the rest of the Lord's followers. 22I pray that the Lord will bless your life and will be kind to you.
1What if I could speak all languages of humans and of angels? If I did not love others, I would be nothing more than a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2What if I could prophesy and understand all secrets and all knowledge? And what if I had faith that moved mountains? I would be nothing, unless I loved others. 3What if I gave away all that I owned and let myself be burnt alive? I would gain nothing, unless I loved others. 4Love is kind and patient, never jealous, boastful, proud, or 5rude. Love isn't selfish or quick-tempered. It doesn't keep a record of wrongs that others do. 6Love rejoices in the truth, but not in evil. 7Love is always supportive, loyal, hopeful, and trusting. 8Love never fails! Everyone who prophesies will stop, and unknown languages will no longer be spoken. All that we know will be forgotten. 9We don't know everything, and our prophecies are not complete. 10But what is perfect will some day appear, and what isn't perfect will then disappear. 11When we were children, we thought and reasoned as children do. But when we grew up, we stopped our childish ways. 12Now all we can see of God is like a cloudy picture in a mirror. Later we will see him face to face. We don't know everything, but then we will, just as God completely understands us. 13For now there are faith, hope, and love. But of these three, the greatest is love. Speaking unknown languages and prophesying
1Finally, our friends, please pray for us. This will help the message about the Lord to spread quickly, and others will respect it, just as you do. 2Pray that we may be kept safe from worthless and evil people. After all, not everyone has faith. 3But the Lord can be trusted to make you strong and protect you from harm. 4He has made us sure that you are obeying what we taught you and that you will keep on obeying. 5I pray that the Lord will guide you to be as loving as God and as patient as Christ. Warnings against laziness 6My dear friends, in the name of the Lord Jesus, I beg you not to have anything to do with any of your people who waste their time and refuse to obey the instructions we gave you. 7You know that you should follow our example. We didn't waste our time being lazy, 8and we didn't accept food from anyone without paying for it. We didn't want to be a burden to any of you, so night and day we worked as hard as we could. 9We had the right not to work, but we wanted to set an example for you. 10We also gave you the rule that if you don't work, you don't eat. 11Now we learn that some of you waste your time and won't do any work, except the work of a busybody. 12So, for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ, we ask and beg these people to settle down and start working for a living. 13Dear friends, you must never become tired of doing right. 14Be on your guard against any followers who refuse to obey what we have written in this letter. Put them to shame by not having anything to do with them. 15Don't consider them your enemies, but speak kindly to them as you would to any other follower. 16I pray that the Lord, who gives peace, will always bless you with peace. May the Lord be with all of you. 17I always sign my letters as I am now doing: PAUL. 18I pray that our Lord Jesus Christ will be kind to all of you.