Dr. Jamie Jenkins: No Such Thing as an Overnight Success

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. 

That is a silly way to illustrate the fact that significant tasks are accomplished only with perseverance.

The Band Perry is one of the hottest musical groups today. Kimberly, Neil and Reed are siblings that make up this highly popular band. They are nominated for the 2012 Grammy Best New Artist, and for the 2012 Academy of Country Music Vocal Group of the Year.


The style of The Band Perry, an eclectic blend of Country, Rock, Gospel, and Soul, caused their debut album to sell more than one million copies the first year.  Lead singer Kimberly says, "Daddy rocked us to sleep with the Rolling Stones, and Mama woke us up with Loretta Lynn. So, we got it honest."


Kimberly added, "We've dedicated every moment to music since I was fifteen, so you're talking about a thirteen year journey. It's been wonderful to see all the blood, sweat, and tears really come to fruition."


Just a few weeks ago the media created a buzz about William Levy and his performance on Dancing with the Stars. Another overnight success? Hardly.


One reporter for Fox News Latino said the recognition Levy has received recently is what "he has been working towards since he arrived in the U.S. from Cuba at age 14. Over many years (he is 31 now), continued personal and professional development and perseverance paid off. As they normally do."


People who play video games have made Angry Birds "the largest mobile app success the world has seen so far." It has been downloaded more than a billion times. Developers spent eight years and almost went bankrupt before their massive hit. It was their 52nd creation.


Michael Connelly is the author of fifteen novels. Over a three year period he began, but did not finish, two crime novels because he knew they were not good enough to be published. His third attempt took another three years and was rewritten several times before becoming his first published novel. He said, "I had been a working journalist for about 12 years, before my first book was published. I don't think I would qualify as an overnight success."


Jeremy Lin burst on the scene a few months ago. This New York Knicks basketball player seemed to "come from nowhere, emerging overnight to become a star, after being underestimated and overlooked, disregarded by college coaches, ignored in the NBA Draft and waived twice in two weeks." What this quote from the Jeremy Lin official website does not tell you is that this point guard was "the first to arrive every day (at practice), and the last to leave. He sought out and devoured game tapes."


The sports writer went on to say, "People don't beat the odds by being lucky; they do it by working (very hard). It's tempting to think that you can skip the struggle that being amazing at anything requires, but life just doesn't work that way. It happens, but the odds are low - you may as well buy a lottery ticket and hope for the best. If you want to be great at anything. Forget succeeding overnight - succeeding no matter what it takes is what it's all about."


While there are exceptions, the idea of the overnight success is largely a myth. Jon Gordon in a recent Guideposts article said, "We see the end result-the outcome. But what most of us don't see are the countless hours of sweat, toil, dedication, practice and preparation that lead to greatness."


What is true of athletes, authors, and actors is true for everyone. The principle is the same in the effort to succeed in our chosen profession or in some area of personal achievement. It also applies to our spiritual life.


When applied to the Christian life, John Wesley called this principle Christian perfection. He believed it was an "absolute impossibility (to be) half a Christian" and he was determined "to be all-devoted to God, to give him all my soul, my body, and my substance."


The Apostle Paul put it this way: "I have not yet reached my goal, and I am not perfect ...  But I forget what is behind, and I struggle for what is ahead. I run toward the goal, so that I can win the prize of being called to heaven. This is the prize that God offers because of what Christ Jesus has done" (Philippians 3:12-14, Contemporary English Bible).

Life is a journey filled with disappointments and adversity as well and victories and joy. It is said that winners never quit and quitters never win. Let us commit ourselves to disciplined Christian living so that we will always be faithful to the One who is our Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer. 

Jamie Jenkins

Taken with permission from "Monday Morning in North Georgia," North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church.