Determination to Never Give Up

The following is excerpted from Bill Rudge's book, "Reaching Your Maximum Potential in Christ."

I coordinated this (the Ultimate R.I.O.T.) for several years for various groups throughout the country. After the event I would evaluate the participants collectively as to whether they were wimps, whiners, or winners. I would explain that a wimp is someone who gives up; a whiner is someone who complains, blames others, or has a bad attitude; and a winner is someone who doesn't give up and has a good attitude no matter what.

Usually all the young people competed like winners. So when I shared my testimony at the end and spoke on peer pressure, I also encouraged them to live for the Lord the same way they competed in the Ultimate R.I.O.T. –– with all their heart, and like winners who have determined never to give up.

Determination

All through my life, people frequently told me: "You can't do it! You're too young ... too small ... too weak ... too poor. You'll never make it. You might as well give up!" I was frequently told that what I planned to do was impossible.

So, as one who never really had much potential and was often considered the least likely to succeed, who would have thought that one day I would be leading an international outreach ministry which is impacting tens of thousands of lives.

What has made the difference in my life? I had one God-given characteristic in my favor –– determination.

During my junior year of high school I went out for football. Some of my friends said I would quit after a few weeks. Although I was a rookie and inexperienced, I was determined to stick it out. Unlike basketball in junior high where I was cut after the first practice, in football no one was cut, you just quit. But I was determined to hang in there.

My coach began to notice that I was strong for my size. I weighed only 160 pounds but was able to bench press 250 pounds, so the coach would say to his upperclassmen players, "Look at Rudge, he's benching more than you big linemen." That didn't make me real popular with them. A few times they formed a circle around me during practice so the coaches couldn't see, and proceeded to hit me with their forearms and helmets and kick me with their practice spikes. But I wouldn't quit.

Even though I sat on the bench most of the time, I still wouldn't quit. I didn't play any varsity my junior year and only about five quarters my senior year. Part of it was my fault because when the coach would put me in during practice, I wouldn't know the plays or I was skipping practice altogether due to chasing girls. I sealed my fate when I skipped a game for a party and then, realizing I might be thrown off the team, I drove alone to a game over an hour away, but I arrived too late to suit up.

The few games I did get in, after the defensive play was called in the huddle, I would have to ask another player what I was supposed to do. It was midway through my senior season when I got motivated to play, but by then it was too late. The coaches had given me chances, but I wasted them.

My main reason for going out for football was the physical conditioning. I guess I wasn't motivated enough to really want to play. My goal was only to stick it out, and that's all I achieved. You'll never go higher than your goals.

Years later, I sponsored a multi-media assembly at an area high school entitled Champions. Its basic message was that no matter what your circumstances or obstacles, if you have determination, you can be a champion. A true champion never gives up, never quits. Some of the film footage showed a Vietnam Vet who had both legs blown off, yet he refused to give up and became a weightlifting champion. The school principal told me that after viewing the media presentation, one of the worst students said, "Maybe there is still hope for me."

After the assembly, a teacher who was now one of the football coaches started walking down the aisle to the front of the auditorium towards me. I recognized that he was one of the big upperclassmen who had beat on me during football practice throughout my rookie year. My mind flashed back and I thought he was going to hit me upside the head and say, "You were a rookie then, and as far as I'm concerned you are still a rookie." But he walked up to me and told me he thought our assembly was one of the best ever.

When I began to lift weights in 7th grade, I was often told to quit wasting my time because I was too skinny and weak. The motivation that kept me going was my desire to become muscular like one of my older brothers. I wanted to overcome my puny physique because I was tired of being pushed around. My goal was to be the strongest in my class by the time I graduated.

Sometimes I had weightlifting partners and sometimes I had to work out alone. After many years of relentless training my weak-guy image was changing. My skinny body was developing muscles. When I graduated, pound for pound I achieved my goal, because I weighed only 160 pounds and was benching almost 300 pounds. Eventually, at age 18 I reached my benching maximum of 335 pounds, which back in 1971 was fantastic, especially for my weight of only 165 pounds.

When I started taking karate at the age of 17, I was told, "You'll never be any good at karate, Rudge. You're too muscle-bound from lifting weights. You're too tight. You have no control." They were right. I purposely had no control when sparring. By the second year, however, they were calling me Godzilla, because of my sparring ability and because I was the strongest and craziest in the class.

I'm not conveying this to brag, but to illustrate that by sheer determination we can do things thought impossible. How much more could we accomplish for the Lord if we would only be this determined and sold out for Him?

I graduated at age 17, which means I was always one of the youngest among my peers at school. I had to learn to fight to survive, but this adversity eventually turned out to be an advantage because it made me strong and determined.

When I became a Christian, many of my friends rejected me. They thought it was just another fad and wouldn't last. That was in May, 1971, and I'm still walking with the Lord.

When Karen and I ran away and got married, I was 18 and she was 17. I was only making $10 a week cutting grass. Almost everyone told Karen to get away from me and said our marriage wouldn't last a year. That was in June, 1971.

My wife and I arrived at Bible college with little money and no jobs. Very few people thought we would survive. Most of the other students were raised in church and knew much more about the Bible than I did. I struggled with things like who Paul was and how to locate the book of John. Many of my college classmates thought I'd never finish Bible college because I had cheated my way through high school. Yet I finished all four years, even though I had to work 40-60 hours a week, as well as attend classes and do homework. I also taught self-defense and exercise at the college and YMCA, and served as youth leader for a youth group. Ironically, many of the students who thought I'd drop out were the ones who never made it into ministry or later quit altogether.

In August of 1977, with literally no money, no staff, and no facilities — just a lot of God-given determination — Karen and I started this ministry in the upstairs apartment of my parents' home. I used the kitchen table as my desk and Karen kept the ministry records in a file cabinet in our bedroom. Very few people thought we would succeed. Many said, "Others have tried and failed, and so will you." But with God's help we persevered.

Almost everyone said there was no way we could build without a bank loan, but we knew that God is faithful to fulfill what He leads us to do. In obedience to His will, we stepped out on total faith as we began, continued, and finished our facilities without a cent of interest being paid. The dream and goal that God had given us became a reality. The Lord was greatly glorified because we dared to trust Him to overcome what plainly seemed to be insurmountable obstacles.

The new president of the college from which I had graduated called to book me to speak there. During our phone conversation, he told me that back in 1975 (when I was fresh out of Bible college), the pastor of the church in North Carolina where I was youth pastor said to him, "Bill just doesn't have ministry in him, and I advised him to give it up." Now years later, the president of my alma mater was asking me to address the student body on The Impossible and how we had developed such a successful ministry. Isn't it amazing how things change?

There are many other illustrations I could share of how God has enabled us to accomplish that which others thought was impossible. In reality, however, people were right thinking that I didn't have much potential. But I have built my life and ministry on Philippians 4:13,

"I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." (NAS).

Has it proven true? God took a young kid from the West Hill of Sharon, Pennsylvania, who had no hope or potential, and He has done the impossible through my life and ministry.

One of the reasons why we have such faithful volunteers and supporters for our ministry is they know I'm going to do what I say I'm going to do. If I believe God has led me to do something, nothing and no one will stop me. I will continue and I will endure until it is done. My procedure is to seek God's will for my life and ministry, then to have the determination to never give up until the Lord either fulfills what He led me to do or gives definite, new direction.

Most everything I have learned and done has not come easily. I guess my best degree is from the "school of hard knocks." That is how God has built my determination. Sure, I have been knocked down many times, but God has always given me the strength and determination to get back up again. I have realized that real failure is not when you fall, it is when you lie there and give up.

I have always enjoyed a challenge. It seems the more obstacles I face and the more opposition I receive, the more determined I become. Countless times throughout my life and ministry, I have had to face the cold reality that circumstances said, "You can't do it," and people kept reminding me, "You'll never do it," but God's Word said, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." The Lord has instilled within me the mentality of never giving up –– it's death or victory. No surrender and no retreat!

To have the determination to never give up, you must have goals, dreams, and vision based on Scripture. Believe that through Christ you can do it. Be willing to pay the price at all cost, and be motivated and empowered by His Spirit to persevere.

What is Your Dream?

What goals and vision has the Lord given you through study of His Word and prayer? If you don't have any, then spend time in Scripture, prayer, and fasting, and God will put His goals, His dreams, His vision, and His desires in your heart. One of the reasons I'm still in the ministry and still excited is due to my goals and vision for the future. As soon as I achieve one goal, God gives me two or three more. That keeps me motivated.

I often pray to the Lord: "Put Your thoughts and attitudes in my mind, and Your emotions, desires, goals, dreams, and vision in my heart. Give me unwavering faith to believe You and the motivation and determination to persevere."

Motivation

You can accomplish almost anything if you are motivated.

When my daughter was a one-and-a-half-year-old toddler, I was in my senior year at Bible college. It was close to graduation, so we sold our mobile home and were living in a former teacher's house on campus. Someone was supposed to be watching our daughter Tabitha. Suddenly I felt compelled to look out the second-floor window, and saw that she was playing in the middle of the road in rainwater and mud. The road had a sharp curve which would obstruct a driver from seeing that anyone was in the road –– especially a little one-and-a-half-year-old who was sitting down. If a car had come it would have smashed her little body. I had already lost a seven-year-old brother who had been hit by a car, so I was motivated to respond quickly.

I jumped down one flight of steps, turned 180 degrees and then jumped down another flight. In my haste I forgot about the low ceiling at the bottom of the steps. My forehead hit the ceiling and split open. The impact was so hard it bent the metal covering and threw me back so that my lower back hit the front edge of the steps. But I was motivated and nothing was going to stop me from getting to her –– not even the dazed and disoriented state I was in, nor the blood which was now oozing over my head and face. I got up and ran directly to Tabitha, scooped her out of the road and brought her back inside. It was only then that I discovered how much my head and back hurt.

The point is this: I had one goal in mind –– get Tabitha out of that life-threatening situation and back to safety –– and I had one motivation –– my overwhelming love for my daughter. We must have not only a vision but also the motivation, which stirs us to action.

Even before I gave my life to Christ, I had determination. When I wanted to achieve something, I would not quit until I dropped. When I wasn't motivated, I would get bored quickly and give up. That's why I quit job after job and relationship after relationship. As a teen I wasn't motivated to do very much except lift weights, practice karate, and have a good time.

After hitchhiking across the country at the age of 18, searching for answers to life, I had an encounter with the resurrected Christ. I found the answers in Jesus Christ. He gave my life purpose and meaning. He was someone to whom I could totally and completely dedicate my life. He has increased and redirected my determination and kept me motivated all these years. That is why He has accomplished through me what others thought was impossible.

Instilling Determination in My Children

I have sought to instill this same kind of Biblical determination in my children. My son, B.J., started playing soccer at age 6. He didn't like to practice nor did he see the importance of it. All he wanted was the excitement and challenge of the game and scoring goals. I knew if he was going to be good and achieve his potential he had to train.

I made him practice every type of kick imaginable using both feet. I made him run laps and do various drills I would invent. I made him practice soccer in the rain, mud, and snow. Above all I sought to teach him the importance of honoring the Lord and having a good attitude. B.J. became so motivated and dedicated that he would train two to three hours on his own almost every day.

The fruit of his labor paid off. By age 14, he had excelled in ability and was going to Europe with Team USA. Five days before he was to leave for Europe, he broke his ankle trying out for the Keystone State Games –– which he made. After his recovery from ankle surgery, he paid the price by training harder than ever, and as a result went to Europe in 1992 with the East–West Soccer Ambassadors. He was made team captain and scored the most goals for the U.S. team.

He tore the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and did other damage to his right knee during the summer before his senior year of high school. After extensive rehabilitation, he came back to play for his team. After re-injuring his knee in another game, he had to have reconstructive surgery and was out for the season. In spite of physical setbacks, he came back to qualify for a scholarship at Geneva College. They won the national championship his freshman year. A week before the championship game, he completely tore the ACL in his other knee. After another surgery he did extensive rehabilitation and again came back. At the age of 18, he became a high school assistant soccer coach, and at age 19, he became one of the youngest head soccer coaches in the country.

A soccer coach from a rival team wrote in our local paper concerning him:

"B.J. Rudge has the magic touch with a soccer ball that I have never seen before around Mercer County."

Sure it was hard, but he'll tell you it was well worth it. Even though over the years he faced many obstacles and injuries, he always persevered, and as a result won many honors and awards from his soccer skills –– and also trained and impacted many others as well.

During track season, my daughter Tabitha was team captain in her senior year of high school, and improved each week. By the end of the season she was running times that seemed impossible for her just weeks before. Her determination and intensive training was motivated by three goals she developed for districts: break the school record in the open 800 meter, qualify for state, and at least place 3rd to receive a plaque.

All season long I had been encouraging her before the race with Isaiah 40:31 ––

"But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." (KJV)

She was fantastic in the 800 meter relay at districts, and we were confident she would do well in the open 800. But it was not to be. She ran the 800, just missing the school record by a fraction of a second. She missed qualifying for state competition by two seconds, and she took fourth place, so she did not receive a plaque.

Tabitha was crushed. To make matters worse, the following day there was a big picture in the local paper's sports section of the 800-finish line. All season when Tabitha was winning, or at least placing, the pictures were of other track events, but this first picture of the 800 meter had a great close-up of the finish line, and showed only the first three place winners.

Tabitha had honored the Lord all season, and we just couldn't understand why the Lord brought her so far and then let her fall short of her goal. I said to Tabitha, "First, we have to get a proper perspective on this. Don't focus on missing the state meet, but focus on the fact that you are number four in the district which is quite an accomplishment." Then I told her, "Honor the Lord in this valley, and there will be a mountaintop coming up soon."

The next night Tabitha sang with the community choir at a large church in the area. I was way in the back and Tabitha was up front on the platform singing, but we simultaneously looked at each other as they sang one of their new songs, They That Wait Upon the Lord.

The founder of this interracial and highly successful choir selected Tabitha and another young man to help him take the offering. But before he did and unknown to Tabitha, he spent several minutes sharing how Tabitha was instrumental in getting this tremendous choir started and how she has really lived the life and influenced many to come to Christ. It wasn't the way we expected, but God had honored her for honoring Him. While track is very important to Tabitha, her walk with the Lord is even more important.

Paul says in I Corinthians 9:24,25 ––

"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever."

At Geneva College, Tabitha faced additional obstacles, injuries, and sickness, but she persevered. She set two indoor track records –– one her freshman year and one her senior year. She also placed 33rd at nationals (NCCAA) in cross country her senior year at Geneva (although she had never ran cross country before) and helped her team place fourth at nationals.

In her senior year, she placed 4th in the open 400 at NCCAA. Her 1600-meter relay team, which was undefeated in district, placed 2nd at nationals. And her Geneva College women's team took second at nationals. The Lord has also honored and blessed her in many other ways for her faithfulness to Him.

Pay the Price

In 1986, I started coaching my son's YMCA soccer team, the Strikers. We lost the first game to the Flash, an excellent team. So I gave the Strikers a choice. "Give up, or if you are willing to pay the price, I'll train you hard, and we'll go for it." They agreed to go for it, so I trained them hard. We developed an extensive training program and obstacle course at the ministry center, scrimmaging older and better teams, showing special training and motivational videos, and so on. We used Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me" as our theme.

We won the rest of our games that year and also won the championship game. During the four years I coached we never lost another game, and our teams won both the league and playoff championships. Pay the price and the results will follow.

The last year I coached youth soccer, I designed a 15-station obstacle course. They had to dribble around cones, then pass under a net, head the ball over or under a volleyball net, shoot on goal, chip over a picnic table, pass through two wooden horses, take five speed shots against the back of our building, dribble around more cones, run tires, cross monkey bars, chip over a picnic table, shoot on another goal, chip through a suspended inner tube, jump over a heavy bag, and do ten rebound kicks against an inverted trampoline. Not only did it develop determination and endurance, but greatly helped them develop key soccer skills.

You Can Do It

At the end of regulation play of our championship game during my fourth year of coaching, we were tied 1-1. I wanted to play it out so we could win or lose as a team, but the other team's coach said, "No, we can beat you in a shoot-out." So I said, "Let's go for it."

I got my team together and said we need to pray for wisdom. I prayed and then I picked five shooters and the other team picked five shooters. We ended up with a tie again. I said to the other coach, "Let's play it out," but he said, "No, we can beat you in a shoot-out," so I said, "Let's go for it again."

I got the team together again and said, "We need to pray again for wisdom. I chose five more players. The Lord impressed on my heart to choose one of my worst players. I only played him a few minutes during the whole championship game. My assistant coaches and the players looked at me as if to say, "You're crazy, coach!"

When the other team saw who I chose and was up to shoot, they started laughing and saying, "He's nothing, he can't do it!" Right before he shot, I went up and hit him on the shoulder and said, "You can do it!" He blasted that ball as hard as he could and it went right over the goalie and into the net, scoring the winning goal. We won the championship.

Don't ever tell me you can't do it. I'm the wrong person to say that to. If I could achieve all I have with no real potential, how much more for those of you who have been blessed with talents and abilities?

Not by Might

Zechariah 4:6 says,

"... 'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the Lord Almighty."

God has taken the bit of determination I had in my past and has redirected and increased it, and enabled me by His power to do what many people thought was impossible. In my records on The Impossible and Adventures in Missions, I document some of the many impossible situations the Lord has enabled us to overcome through unwavering faith in Him, obedient determination, and persistent perseverance.

We Need Endurance and Perseverance

During my senior year at Bible college, I worked as an area manager for an insurance and financial investment company. I was out on an appointment with Oscar, a new man I was training. It was his first opportunity to give the total sales presentation himself and he was bound and determined to make the sale. Somewhat nervously, and in a monotone voice, he shared his presentation for about five minutes when the client's small dog ran over and started biting his hand and pulling on his shirtsleeve. Oscar didn't want to lose his train of thought and momentum, so he kept right on talking, ignoring what was happening. A few minutes later the dog circled the room and came back and started to bite and pull at his pant leg, but once again Oscar ignored it and kept right on talking. The dog's owner, probably hoping we would hurry and finish, did nothing. Then the dog circled the room again and jumped on Oscar's leg.

Oscar, being so determined to make the sale, did not chase it away. After we were done and outside the house, Oscar hurriedly took off his boot, turned it over, and dumped out yellow liquid. The dog, when it was on his leg, had actually wet in his boot, but Oscar kept quiet in hopes of making the sale. If Oscar had this much determination just to make a sale (that we didn't even make), how much more should we as believers in Christ be determined in our commitment to serve our Lord?

My First and Last Race

Several years ago, Karen and I were with another couple at a recreation area. There was a night race and the three of them were running in it. The husband kept asking me to run too, but I had never run in a race. Finally I accepted his challenge, since I'm willing to try almost anything once. All the runners were dressed in shorts, tee shirts, and tennis shoes. I was getting interesting stares, since I was wearing street clothes. Jokingly I commented to the couple and Karen, loud enough so that the other runners could hear, that I was listed in Runner's World (a magazine name I thought I made up –– but discovered it was actually the name of the premiere running magazine). I wondered why the other runners stared at me even more curiously.

I positioned myself near the front of the line thinking I needed all the advantage I could get –– not realizing the best runners are supposed to take that spot.

It was a 5k (3.1 mile) race. We were to run halfway around the lake, and then return the same way. I was involved in various forms of exercise, but running was not my forte because of injuries, and because I thought it was too boring. I liked exciting adventures requiring short bursts of energy. I had never run more than a mile before, so this was going to be a great challenge.

Not to get trampled at the start of the race, my strategy was to get out fast with the pack. I stayed with them the first 50-100 yards and then quickly moved to the side of the road to continue at a much slower pace. During the race I wanted to stop many times, but I kept going –– refusing to walk. I kept hoping to see the leading runners returning –– at least knowing the halfway mark was not too far away.

It seemed like an eternity before the first runners began to pass me heading in the opposite direction. Finally I made it to the halfway mark and thought, "I've made it this far, I can make it the rest of the way." The friend we were with was still heading for the halfway mark when I passed her on the way back. She asked if I wanted to walk and I said, "No way!" My ankle and knees were now hurting, but I decided I was going to complete this race no matter what. As I ran I reviewed in my mind 10 Things the Lord Taught Me from my Fasting Prayer List, which helped greatly.

Finally, I heard cheering and soon saw the lights by the finish area. The finish line wasn't far ahead. I completed the race and was told my time was very good for someone who had never run before. Although half of the people beat me, I did manage to come in ahead of the other half –– including Karen and our friend's wife. I paid the price for completing the race. The next three days my legs ached, but knowing that I would probably never run in a race again, and having gained a lot of respect for runners (especially my wife and daughter who ran in many more races, including a half-marathon –– 13.1 miles), I was glad I had accomplished this goal.

The Apostle Paul likens our walk with the Lord as a race. In the same way an athlete must have determination to face and overcome obstacles and difficulties, so must we in living for the Lord. In Acts 20:24 Paul says ––

"I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me –– the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace."

In Galatians 5:7, Paul asks ––

"You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth?"

In I Corinthians 9:24-27, Paul said ––

"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize."

Paul says in Philippians 3:12-14 ––

"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."

Hebrews 12:1-3 admonishes ––

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."

Never Give Up

Bigger guys used to always want to fight me. So I would say to them: "You want to fight me, that's fine. You knock me down, I'll get back up. You knock me out, when I come to I'm coming after you. You break my arm, I'll use the other arm. You break my leg, I'll crawl after you. I will not give up, I'll keep coming till I get you!" Most of them didn't want to fight after that. We must have this same determination in our commitment to Christ.

One of the most important admonitions –– repeated over and over in Revelation and in many other Scriptures –– concerns the Lord's imminent return and is an exhortation to endure, be faithful, hold on, overcome, persevere, and stand firm to the end. (See Revelation 2:10, 25, 26; 13:10; 14:12; 21:7; Matthew 10:22; 24:13; Luke 21:16-19; James 5:8.)

My desire is to turn the hearts of the people back to the Lord and motivate them to walk in endurance and faithfulness to Him until He returns. As believers in Christ we must have the attitude that no obstacle or opposition will cause us to give up in defeat. Instead, we must endure to the end in our commitment to Him. We must persevere, remain faithful, and never give up until the Lord fulfills what He leads us to do or He gives us definite new direction.

The Apostle Paul was in prison at Rome, knowing that his time on earth was about to come to an end. Yet with faith and determination he wrote these powerful words in II Timothy 4:6-8 ––

"For I am already being poured out like a drink offering [he was about to be martyred], and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day –– and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing."

The Apostle Paul's commitment to Christ resulted in unwavering faith and determination –– even to death. Ask God to instill in you the same kind of determination to never give up!