What is the difference between perseverance and futility? I mean, when things don’t work out right should we stick to the task or just give it up as a waste of time? I once spoke to a frustrated young deputy who said, “We should just lock them all up. We’re getting nowhere.” Wait a minute, I thought, this kid’s way too young for this kind of cynicism. But it wasn’t merely cynicism; he was dealing with the flood of despair Law Enforcement Officers encounter on the job. Many days LEO's only see the bad side of people.
I thought about that. As a minister I struggle with frustrating people and situations too. For Law Enforcement Officers, it’s part of the job. My wife, a teacher, talks about the same frustrations.
So what are we supposed to do? How do we NOT surrender to futility? Well first, I think that frustration is not a sign of weakness. The fact that it bothers you shows you still have some hope.
So I have three questions; First, what can we learn about ourselves? Am I in this only for a paycheck, or do I think the job really makes a difference? If I believe the job is worth the effort, I need to look for the good among the bad. I’m always surprised at how much good I find when I stop focusing on the garbage.
Second, how can we use this knowledge to positively motivate one another? When I am frustrated I tend to turn inward. This is the opposite of motivation. I don’t mean to sound touchy-feely, but we all need an encouraging word once in a while. I find a simple Atta-Boy from my peers works wonders.
Third, how can we NOT become discouraged by life’s apparent futility? Ah, that’s an “ultimate question;” my specialty. I find hope in the fact that I believe in God. Though it eludes us, there is a reason for existence. This helps me carry on when I don’t see an obvious reason beyond myself.
Keep at it. When Jeremiah complained to God about how hard his task was, the Almighty had a few choice words for the prophet. I’ll put the reply into LEO-ease; "If you’ve chased crooks on foot and they have worn you out, how will you keep up with their cars? If you stumble during a five-mile run, how do you expect to make a foot-pursuit through a dark alley?"Jeremiah 12:5 (Don's Paraphrase)