For every leader, there are times when it’s just plain hard. Difficult decisions to make. Difficult people to lead, develop and care for. Difficult issues to wrestle with. The temptation is there to quit. Throw in the towel. Declare it over. How do you find the strength to hang in there and not give up? Rick Warren shares five excellent thoughts with us.
Originally published by Rick Warren
Every single one of us faces periods in our lives when we want to give up on what God has called us to do. No one escapes those kinds of seasons. But the temptation to give up doesn’t make you less of a pastor or a church leader.
The question is, what do you do with that temptation? One characteristic of people who God uses is that they never give up.
So, what should you do when you feel like giving up?
The Bible gives us six actions God wants us to take when we feel like giving up. Together, they spell out the word ENDURE.
- E – Embrace God’s purpose.
We can endure almost anything if we know there’s a purpose behind it. But without a purpose, we’ll collapse.
The Bible says this about God’s purpose behind our problems: “These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold” (1 Peter 1:7 NLT). Your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold.
People often mean evil toward you, but God brings good out of the bad. God’s purpose behind your problems is always greater than any problem you’re experiencing. In fact, the Bible tells us in the book of James: “You know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:3-4 NIV). No matter what you’re going through right now, enduring the trial will help you become more like Jesus. Never forget, God never wastes a hurt.
- N – Nurture your spiritual roots.
The Bible tells us we develop spiritual roots by sinking them deep into God’s Word. To illustrate this point, Jesus uses the Parable of the Sower. He notes four kinds of hearts who hear the Word of God and respond to it. The person whose faith grows is the one who has roots deep in the Word. “The seed in the good earth—these are the good-hearts who seize the Word and hold on no matter what, sticking with it until there’s a harvest” (Luke 8:15 The Message).
Circumstances change. Public opinion changes. Culture changes. But the Bible says the Word of God lasts forever. When you build your life on something that doesn’t change, you find stability in the midst of trials.
- D – Direct your attention on Jesus Christ.
Corrie ten Boom once said, “If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed. If you look at God you’ll be at rest.” You can either look at your problems, or you can look at the solution.
The more you look at God, the smaller the problems get. The more you look at your problems, the larger they get. The Bible tells us to do this in Hebrews 12:2: “Let us look only to Jesus, the One who began our faith and who makes it perfect. He suffered death on the cross. But he accepted the shame as if it were nothing because of the joy that God put before him. And now he is sitting at the right side of God’s throne” (NCV).
Jesus endured the cross by looking beyond it, to what God would do through it to save us. To overcome the difficulties in your life, you have to redirect your attention away from the problem and toward Jesus Christ who gives the solution.
- U – Use your experience to help others.
Sometimes we experience troubles because God wants us to use those problems to help others. Paul experienced this too: “When we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer” (2 Corinthians 1:6 NLT).
As God comforts you through whatever pain you’re experiencing, he is preparing you to comfort others with the very comfort you’ve been given.
In fact, our greatest life message always comes out of our weaknesses, not our strengths. Often, that one experience from your past you want to hide and never talk about, God wants to use to not only help you grow, but to help others grow, too.
Remembering how God will use our pain to help others is one of the reasons we can endure pain. Our love for others keeps us going. The Bible says, “Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance” (1 Corinthians 13:7 NLT).
- R – Rely on God’s power.
You can’t endure pain on your own. You need God’s power to handle it. In fact, God never meant for you to go through life on your own power. Colossians 1:11 says, “We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need” (NLT). God uses difficulties to teach you to trust him. You don’t know God is all you need until God is all you have.
- E – Expect God to bless you.
Faith is expecting God to do something in your life. The Bible says, “According to your faith be it done to you” (Matthew 9:29 ESV). You get to choose how much God helps you through the difficult times. If you expect God to help you, he will.
God makes this promise to us in James 1:12: “God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him” (NLT).
God wants us to grow in faith.
Endurance is one of the most important characteristics any of us can develop in ministry. Hebrews 10:36 says,“Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised” (NLT).
You don’t want to miss anything God has in store for you. Keep going. Don’t give up. God’s best is yet to come.