“Do you want to be a better leader? Raise the threshold of your pain. Do you want your church to grow? Do you want your business to reach higher goals? Reluctance to face pain is your greatest limitation. There is no growth without change, no change without loss, and no loss without pain. You’ll grow only to the threshold of your pain.” Chand, Samuel (2015-04-07). Leadership Pain: The Classroom for Growth (p. 15). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
The book is filled with illustrations of leaders who have endured incredible pain, sleepless nights, betrayal and heartbreak. Leadership is not for the feint at heart. Life has a way of beating us up. I have two dear friends who are in Arizona at a Lyme Disease Clinic, battling, at great cost, for loved ones who have been dealt the horrible card of Lyme Disease. Two other dear friends of mine battle brain cancer.
Enduring physical disease, surgeries and hardship can take the wind out of anyone, and add to that the pain that many Christian leaders feel fighting the good fight of faith, building the kingdom of God…
Dr. Sam Chand quotes…
• Over 4,000 churches closed in America last year.
• Over 1,700 pastors left the ministry every month last year.
• Over 1,300 pastors were terminated by the local church each month during the past year, many without cause.
• Over 3,500 people a day left the church last year. 1 In another study of pastors, Richard Krejcir reported:
• 78% were forced to resign from a church at least once.
• 63% had been fired from their pastoral position at least twice.
Chand, Samuel (2015-04-07). Leadership Pain: The Classroom for Growth (p. 37). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
The call of leadership is a dangerous calling in every field, but especially in ministry, since the stakes are so high and the consequences are eternal. This is not a playground, but a battleground, and our enemy is real.
So how does a Christian leader endure betrayal, smear campaigns and stress that threatens to take one down for the count? (I’ve tasted this cup)
By perseverance the snail reached the ark. —Charles H. Spurgeon
Dallas Willard reminds us that the disciplines of the faith develop character in our lives so that we are able to do in the future, what we are not able to do today by trying. I can try all I want to run a marathon today, but I will fail, because I not prepared. If I chose today to begin training myself, by running five miles four times a week, then six months from now I should be able to be successful at running a marathon.
The spiritual disciplines of time in God’s word, in prayer, in fasting, meditating, are not an end in themselves, as I can be tempted to become prideful and self-righteous about my disciplines. The spiritual disciplines remind me that “apart from Christ I can do everything,”
and “with Christ I can do anything.”
If the Christian life is anything, it is a life of sacrifice and giving. The path to life is death… taking up the cross of suffering and sacrifice, that we might experience true life.
I’ve always enjoyed working with young people who are passionate and enthusiastic about changing the world for Christ. They attend conferences, they gather in large stadiums to sing praises to God and when I ask them about spiritual disciplines, they stutter and stammer and give excuses. They have about as much potential for changing the world as I have in running a marathon right now. This is why I love working with students, leading them into the presence of God and giving them the tools to develop spiritual strength that will do them well when the inevitable battles of life, heartbreak and disillusionment come their way.
I love this article by Chris Adsit that effectively captures the path required for everyone who wants to be used mightily by God.
PARTNERS IN PURSUIT
(An accountability relationship can help us live a life that pleases God and satisfies our soul)
By Chris Adsit
Del Hessel was the new track coach at Colorado State University. I was a sophomore hurdler–and not a very good one. During our first one-to-one meeting he asked what my athletic goals were.
I’d never thought about it before. My concept of college track was (1) show up for practice, (2) run some races, (3) if nobody’s faster than you, you win! But I knew Coach Hessel wanted to hear more than that. So before I realized what I was saying, I told him, “I want to compete in the Olympics in the 400-meter hurdles.”
From the moment I uttered those words, my relationship with Del Hessel went downhill. The theme of our association became: Kill Adsit. He began staying up late at night devising cruel ways to torture me. He forced me to run in the mountains, lift heavy weights, sprint stadium stairs and do repeat quarter-miles. He made me go to sleep early and eat bad- tasting food. He demanded I jump thousands of hurdles. Through all this, he remained deaf to my pleas for mercy.
What prompted this onslaught? I’d simply shared a pleasant idea about the Olympics, and rather than applauding and saying nice things like, “Good luck, Chris–I’ll pray for you!” he undertook a diabolical scheme of pain and torment.
Which was exactly what I needed and wanted. Del Hessel knew something about human nature: We all tend to search out the path of least resistance. On my own, I never would have worked hard enough to become a great athlete–or even an average one. But through his coaching, I became an All-American by my senior year. Not quite an Olympian, but close. And I hold Del Hessel in high esteem, because he was one of the few men in my life willing to take the initiative with me, hold me accountable, and push me toward my goals.
Irresponsibility and sloth run rampant throughout humanity. That’s why we hire coaches, teachers, foremen, editors, cops, drill sergeants and IRS agents. When we truly want to achieve a goal–be it athletic, academic, financial, dietary, whatever–we always put ourselves in an accountability structure of some sort. We know we won’t make it otherwise.
As Christians, our ultimate objective is to be conformed to the likeness of Jesus Christ. Part of this transformation is God’s responsibility, but part is ours. Doesn’t it make sense that, as we pursue this highest of all goals in life, we would seek accountability?
WHAT DO YOU WANT? On the grandest scale, most of us desire to lead lives of integrity, longing to bear eternal fruit and hear the Righteous Judge one day say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” What will produce a life of integrity? Nothing less than the power of the Holy Spirit within us.
How do I access this Holy Spirit power? Many things are involved, but here are three biggies: (1) maintain a moment-by-moment state of being filled (controlled and empowered) by the Holy Spirit; (2) find nourishment daily in the Word of God; and (3) avoid sin.
But there’s one overwhelming theological problem with this recipe, and I’ll quote my two-year-old niece, who is an expert on the subject: “I don’t want to!”
Why should I? I mean, integrity seems like a good idea on the whole, but a part of me still loves sin, hates discipline, and would prefer that God go away and let me run things. My new, Christ-like nature hates this. So my old nature is forced to devise various mechanisms that will conceal my sin and rationalize my behavior–to others and to myself.
Hope this blog is of encouragement to you! I’m reminded of Sir Winston Churchill’s famous speech, “Never give up, never, never, never give up.”
Matthew 24:13 (ESV) — But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
God’s best to you! Pastor Stan