October 21, 2013


I was really impressed with Arvind Mahankali. Do you remember him? He’s the 13-year-old who won the 86th Scripps National Spelling Bee earlier this year. His winning word was “knaidel,” which has Yiddish and German roots, meaning a small dumpling.

Arvind, who hails from Bayside Hills, New York, competed against 281 contestants who qualified for the national competition. According to news reports, an estimated 11 million children took part in feeder tournaments across the U.S. In his last year of eligibility, Arvind, an  aspiring physicist, won $30,000 in cash and a $2,500 savings bond.   

Two things impressed me about the young Indian-American. Despite all the hoopla, Arvind never got caught up in the excitement and was extremely reserved, even in the face of a cheering crowd and falling confetti. But the most impressive part of this champion’s journey was his persistence. 

This year was the fourth time Arvind reached the national competition, including third-place finishes the past two years. Considering the hundreds of hours in study time it takes to reach the national level, his success illustrates the extreme dedication it takes to reach one’s goal. In the past four years he undoubtedly sacrificed time with friends, video games, sports, and other entertainment to focus on his ultimate goal.  

We can learn a lot from Arvind’s story. His experience gives us a vivid example of perseverance and the rewards it brings. All of us need divine perseverance to run the Christian race. The author of Hebrews says that we must “run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Heb. 12:1). And unlike the National Spelling Bee, which crowns one winner, our heavenly Father offers eternal life to every faithful believer who perseveres on the Christian journey.