- Have you ever worked really hard to succeed at something? (Students may talk about earning money to make a big purchase, training for an athletic achievement or studying for a test or presentation.)
Working hard at something and sticking with it is called persistence.
- What benefits did you experience from being persistent? (Answers will vary.)
Listen to this definition of persistence. Persistence is “continuing to act or exist longer than usual.” A persistent person ignores obstacles and doesn’t give up. A persistent person keeps trying, keeps asking, and keeps showing up.
- Have you ever met a persistent person? What stood out about him or her? (Students may talk about how this person was inspiring, annoying, got things done, etc.)
Let me tell you a story about a persistent person. Daniel Ruettiger (nicknamed “Rudy”) was born in 1948, the third of fourteen children. From the time he was a young boy, he wanted to attend the University of Notre Dame and play for the Fighting Irish football team.
By the end of high school, Rudy’s dream seemed unlikely to come true. He was from a poor family, didn’t have outstanding grades, and was only 5 ft. 6 in. and 165 pounds—college football players need to be big, and Rudy wasn’t big!
After serving in the military and working for several years, Rudy applied and was rejected from Notre Dame three times. But he never gave up. He started attending Holy Cross College nearby. During this time, he found out that he had dyslexia, a learning disability that made schoolwork difficult. Still, Rudy continued to work hard to achieve his dream. Finally, after two years at Holy Cross, Rudy was accepted as a student at Notre Dame.
Rudy still dreamed of playing football. After a lot of hard work, Rudy earned a place on a practice squad that helped the varsity team train for games. He helped the other players practice, but never played in the actual games himself.
At the very last football game of Rudy’s time at Notre Dame, the coach put him in the game as a defensive end. The 1993 movie, Rudy, shows what happened next.
Share the following video [2:41]:
Rudy’s Victory — Rudy’s movie CLIP
After all of his hard work and persistence, Rudy played in three plays. And in the final play of his senior year at Notre Dame, Rudy recorded a sack, which is all his Notre Dame stat line has ever shown. Rudy was one of two players in Notre Dame history to be carried off the field by his teammates. He also went on to be a motivational speaker, inspiring people all over the world with his story.
- What do you find inspirational about Rudy’s story? (Students may talk about how Rudy didn’t give up even when it seemed like everything was working against him. He didn’t believe it was impossible for him to play football for Notre Dame.)
- Do you think Rudy’s persistence paid off? Why or why not? (Some students may wonder if all of the effort was worth it to play three plays; most will probably think it did because Rudy achieved his dream and inspired others.)
Being persistent can bring about a lot of positive things in our lives. When we stay focused on the goal and continue to show up, we can accomplish great things. Jesus taught His disciples about being persistent in prayer, too. He told them to keep asking God for what they needed. Let’s look at what the Bible says about being persistent in prayer and the difference it can make.
Kids definition of persistent
Wikipedia – Rudy Ruettiger
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