Tough.

Tough is the term I would use to describe Walter Payton.

Every February, I read a book about an African-American in observance of Black History month.

This year, I read the autobiography of Walter Payton.

He grew up with nothing in rural Mississippi. Segregation kept him from playing football at a major Division I college. But no obstacle could keep Walter Payton from becoming one of the greatest running backs in NFL history. Why? Because his mother and father raised him to be tough!

Tough. What does that term mean to you?

Tough — able to endure hardship or pain.

Compare this definition to our society, and it’s easy to see that we are a lot of things, but tough isn’t one of them.

Many take shots at the millenials. “They lack drive and desire.” or “They quit too easily.” Although I think such broad generalizations are unfair, if you are one who has such an opinion, have you ever stopped to think about how we become what we see in others? And if millenials aren’t tough, maybe it’s because of what they saw in their parents. Maybe they learned not to be tough, to not endure hardship through your example. How so?

As a teacher, you found yourself in a setting where you struggled to teach kids in a particular school or district. The kids were rough, hard to handle. And? You left for something easier.

Or you found yourself in a tough work environment where the language wasn’t clean and where others didn’t have the best attitudes. And? You moved to another factory.

Or you left a church because the church was requiring effort from you. So, you went to the country club church where you could sit and be entertained.

But where does God come into all of this?

Did you ask, “Is this where God wants me?” before leaving a “tough situation”?

And if the tough situation is where God wanted you, did you disobey by leaving it?

What’s best for us often isn’t what is easiest for us. And what God wants from us and where He places us might be tough situations or environments!

If we want to raise children who are tough, who don’t quit, and who persevere, then we must exhibit those characteristics in our lives.

We need to be role models to our kids and live in a way where they see how we rely on God to make a way for us not to give up, even in the toughest of circumstances.

Before you leave a situation that God has placed you within, ask, “Am I taking the easy route? Did God place me in this place for His purposes? And, if I choose to leave, am I choosing disobedience?”

Jesus could have quit. He could have called legions of angels to rescue Him. But He didn’t. He stayed the course. He endured. Because He was tough. I hope my wife and I are raising our kids to be like Jesus. I hope we are raising them to be tough.

Joey Haynes is a follower of Jesus, married way out of his league, has two of the coolest children in the universe and is blessed to work with an amazing community of believers known as The Church at Rome.