Stick-to-itiveness is one of the more inelegant words in the English language, but I have a special fondness for it. I heard the word a great deal when I was young, mostly, as I recall, from my mother. I was a creature of sudden but short-lived enthusiasms. I had a passion for building model airplanes, and then one day, mysteriously, all desire left and the basement was left littered with half-finished models. Then stamp collecting became an all-consuming hobby. I received an immense stamp album for Christmas, joined a philatelic club, acquired piles and piles of stamps, and then one day, unaccountably, the interest left me. The album gathered dust and the mounds of stamps were left unmounted. Next it was horses. Each Saturday morning my best friend and I would ride our bikes to a dude ranch two miles from town, get horses and ride up into the Montana foothills imagining we were Merriwether Lewis and William Clark or, less pretentiously, Gene Autry and the Lone Ranger. And then, overnight, that entire world vanished and in its place was—girls.

It was during these rather frequent transitions from one enthusiasm to another that I was slapped with the reprimand “Eugene, you have no stick-to-itiveness. You never finish anything.” Years later I learned that the church had a fancier word for the same thing: perseverance. I have also found that it is one of the marks of Christian discipleship and have learned to admire those who exemplify it. Along the way Psalm 129 has gotten included in my admiration.

Eugene H. Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society (Westmont, IL: IVP Books, 2012).

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