Everyone wants breakthrough, but what do you do when you just want to give up? Who hasn’t been here? Resources are low, hope is gone, the dream is wrecked, and you’re caught in between a rock and a hard place. What’s your next move? When I hit this point, I always go back to an experience I had in college. I pledged a fraternity late in the game as a junior, went through the whole semester, drove back 8 hours to a summer meeting, and when I showed up at a pre-meeting pool party, I wasn’t even acknowledged. Literally. I was like a ghost. Looking back, I should’ve pretended I had a super power where no one could see me, but I didn’t feel any humor in that moment. I was treated like I didn’t exist and then found out I was rejected for initiation into the fraternity. I had experienced rejection before, but nothing quite like this. I thought God had spoken to me and told me to join one! Thanks God.
So then I was asked to help start a fraternity on campus the following year. Hell no! I ended up doing it, but it was only because I had a friend who joined and I didn’t want him to experience what I had gone through. Things weren’t easy at all. We slaved night and day to grow, and had big setbacks, but then the breakthrough happened. We started growing and won big competitions. Wind hit the sails, and we became a force. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither were we, but over the years, this “little fraternity that could” has become the biggest chapter on campus. According to the North-American Interfraternity Conference, we’ve become the best in the nation. 16 years later, I can confidently say “Wow! I’m so glad I didn’t just throw up my hands and give up.”
How many opportunities have you missed because you gave up too soon? There have been over 400 men who’s lives have been changed because of the fraternity chapter we started, so when you quit, you aren’t just hurting yourself, you are hurting the future possibilities of others. We can all learn from personal history, and wisdom from someone else’s history too. Today, I want to share a story about Joshua Chamberlain who altered history because he didn’t give up.
Let’s go back to 1863. Joshua Chamberlain was a Brigadier General fighting for the North in the Civil War. After attending seminary, Joshua took his wife and became a professor at a college. When the war broke out, Joshua passionately believed everyone needed to support the Union. He talked about it in his classes, and even wrote a letter stating, “I fear, this war, so costly of blood and treasure, will not cease until men of the North are willing to leave good positions, and sacrifice the dearest personal interests, to rescue our country from desolation, and defend the national existence against treachery.” The guy had some major good guy swag, but his position on the war didn’t fit well with the other faculty members. When he was given a leave of absence, he immediately enlisted in the army.
Joshua didn’t get involved to make a name for himself, but he became a legend. On July 2, 1863, Joshua and his men were posted on Little Round Top in the middle of the Battle of Gettysburg. The Union forces were beginning to lose ground, and the Confederate army knew their victory was near. In order to avoid defeat, Joshua knew he and his men had to maintain their position. Then, the unthinkable happened. They ran out of ammunition. “At that crisis, I ordered the bayonet. The word was enough.” They literally charged down the hill with only their bayonets, and that bold act single-handedly changed the outcome of the battle. Joshua and his men didn’t lose their position, and the next day, the Union army gained back its lost ground. His actions changed the outcome of Gettysburg, which in effect changed the outcome of the Civil War, which brought our nation back together as one. One single act of courage made a positive impact for generations.
How easy would it have been for Joshua to give up in that critical moment? Things clearly weren’t going his way. With no ammunition, there was no hope. His men had already suffered massive losses. But, if you want breakthrough in your life, you have to realize “breakthrough” is a military term. It’s a war, a fight, and the only way to win is to be bold. Breakthrough isn’t handed over while you’re doing nothing. When resources are low, hope is gone, and the dream is wrecked, remember, this is the time to pull out your bayonets and make history.