Trouble is heading your way. There are no two ways about it. Jesus promised, “In this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33) This trouble seems to only get magnified for Christian leaders. Follow the life of any leader in Scripture and you will find troubles, trials and temptations in abundance.
The question isn’t if or even why we will have troubles. The real question is: How will we ‘run with perseverance the race marked out for us’? (Hebrews 12:1-2) The answer doesn’t primarily relate to our IQ (intelligence quotient) or even our EQ (emotional quotient). Instead, the answer lies with our RQ – our resiliency quotient.
Our RQ is what keeps us pressing on when we’d rather give in or give up. While we do need to be sensitive to God’s caution when to stop, we should be intentional about cultivating our RQ. Hebrews 12:1-3 gives us five keys to growing our RQ:
- A Trust Focus – Whatever the chaos and challenges, we are to ‘fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith’ (v.2). This command calls us to trust. It calls us to choose to live in the peace and freedom that comes from knowing that we are ‘kept by Jesus Christ’ (Jude 1). Reflection Question – Are you carrying burdens that you shouldn’t? Will you choose to give these burdens to God?
- Getting Free of Sin – The ‘sin that so easily entangles’ (v. 1) can take many forms. It can also change form for leaders in times of trouble. Entitlement, fear, pride and sins related to escapism or numbing pain can all rear up in the intensity of leadership challenges. Reflection Question – What is the sin that so easily entangles you – particularly as you lead in times of trouble? What do you need to do to ‘throw it off’?
- Stewarding Our Energy – Leading – especially in times of trouble – can severely deplete our physical resources. The consequences are significant. As football legend Vince Lombardi said, “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” The anecdote to weariness (v. 3) is self-care focused around healthy sleep, diet, exercise and recovery patterns. Unfortunately, recent studies indicate that clergy are struggling more than most occupations in stewarding this area. This problem is only compounded in times of trouble. Reflection Question – Are your rhythms for sleep, exercise and recovery healthy? Are you eating well?
- Encouragement – Losing heart (v. 3) is listed as another pitfall in running our race. Instead, we need a deep reservoir of encouragement. This comes from reflection on Jesus’ example and from engaging practical support networks. Leaders need to lean into support networks – especially during times of challenge. Reflection Question – Who could you invite to support you? Who could pray, listen, strategize, give perspective, encourage or just make you laugh?
- Standing Firm in the Midst of Opposition – The ‘opposition of sinful people’ (v. 3) is another hindrance. This opposition can also be extended to the spiritual realm. Our call is to be self-controlled, to be alert, to resist and to stand firm in the faith. (1Peter 5:8-9) Reflection Question – Are you appropriately sensitive to opposition in the spiritual realm? Who has your ‘spiritual back’ and is praying for you?
Your race will have its share of challenges. Be proactive in developing your RQ and may these timeless truths from Hebrews 12:1-3 help you to run with perseverance.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”