My bookshelves are filled with the names of people who left a mark on history. As I read their names I realize that a common component in each of their lives was the presence of great challenges. In this broken world we will always be confronted with challenges. The task is not how much we can complain about those challenges, but how much we can overcome them.
The quickest way to lose a battle is to believe there is no battle to fight. The idea that life owes us convenience can become a handicap to our spiritual maturity. Paul said that he wanted to know the power of Christ’s resurrection and share in His sufferings. Resurrection is only needed when something has died and it’s in the sharing of Jesus sufferings that we witness the power of His healing.
It is true that we live in a dark world and challenging times. But it is in the darkest moments that light has the ability to shine the brightest. It’s in the brokenness of our world that the power of God’s redemption can be displayed. The challenges of our time are not reasons for our defeat. They are opportunities to overcome and show that love defeats hate; righteousness conquers evil; truth trumps deceit; and Christ has conquered the grave.
Let’s stop complaining and, by faith, start overcoming.
I remember listening to an interview with a successful college football coach. He was asked about how excited it must be to have so many talented and fast freshmen on his team. The coach’s response will always stick with me: “Yes, they’re fast. But the speed is not useful if they don’t know where to go.”
This quote sticks with me because something that moves fast is of little use if it’s quickly moving in the wrong direction. I’ve met many people with tremendous talent and immeasurable potential. Most leadership teams want the most gifted and dynamic leaders that can be found. But those gifts can become harmful if they aren’t anchored in character. The media has displayed many people who had talent but fell because of fickle character.
There is a significant emphasis on developing skills (i.e. leadership, communication, etc). But how much do we emphasize the development of character? We often focus on our fruit (what people see) and neglect the strengthening of our roots (what is hidden). If our character cannot sustain our talents, then we end up like a top heavy tree that topples over with the wind.
It is in the raging winds that the roots of character are strengthened. A talented person can often jump from place to place because their gifts are always welcomed somewhere else. It is this tempting doorway of escape that leads to inconsistency; which hinders character from maturing.
Character is formed when we remain consistent within the gales of life. Because like consistency, character doesn’t change with our circumstance. And character is refined by the fire of our trials. That is why Paul writes that, “we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance character, and character hope” (Romans 5:3-4).
Sometimes it’s not about how fast we get to the goal, but who we are when we arrive.
Every movement has a moment but every moment is not a part of a movement. Our actions in a given moment may reveal our convictions but it is our consistent actions in every moment that reveal our character. Consistency is vital to our faith and our work. It is the accumulation of consistent moments that lead to lasting movements.
And the adversary of consistency is compromise. Compromise smoothes the edges of consistency and dulls the impact of our work.Throughout history social and spiritual revival was led by those who did not compromise. Spiritual revivals were frequently preceded by devoted seasons of prayer. Culture has often changed because people continued to show up and to speak out.
On the other hand, we often find ourselves seeking a significant moment and then returning back to the mundane rhythm of life. If we want to witness a movement in our city, then Sundays can’t be our only moments of worship. Bible study can’t be the only time we open the Bible. Meals can’t be our only time to pray. Church outreach can’t be the only time we serve.
The Lord has given us and called us to so much more. He has given us everything we need to not just live godly moments…but also godly lives (2 Peter 1:3).