I remember when my mother died. After that, I thought that any challenge I would face would be easy after that. I thought anything that I would face couldn’t be anywhere near as challenging as that.
Guess what… I was wrong. Life would continue to be chock full of challenges, especially once you get married and have kids.
Then I thought the same way about having to make challenging and hard decisions. I thought that when I made very hard decisions, that after making those decisions, that all decisions after that would be easy. More “destination orientation”.
Guess what… I was wrong.
There were more and more challenging situations and difficult decisions perpetually. They never stopped, they never reached a threshold of severity, they never went away.
As I “grew up”, ( as an adult), and also got to know God and how He works in our lives, I realized that a life without challenges and difficult decisions was not and never was a part of God’s plan in any way shape or form. In fact, the challenges and difficult decisions were actually a PART of God’s plan. It was about how I viewed challenges and difficult decisions, how I faced them, and the decisions I made walking through them.
Mike Bickle once said, ” I don’t want to waste a good trial.”
And taking it up a notch, it was about “leadership development.” I learned what one of the main callings of a leader is… to make decisions. Therefore all the pressures and challenges of life were there to press me into shape to be the leader that God called me to be. And in case you are wondering, we are ALL called to lead. Lead in our homes, lead in our lives, vocations and communities. Primarily, we lead by the way we live our lives.
The man that was very instrumental in demonstrating this to me was Richard Galloway… founder of New York City Relief. When I joined NYCR in my 30’s, I felt like a boy, especially compared to him. He made decisions, he walked in authority, he was confident, and to me he was bigger than life. He’s a choleric so that was kind of easy for him. He was a leader. Like the apostle Paul, God pushed him to the wall and he turned his life over to God, and all that leadership ability was now directed in God’s plan for his life. Out of my insecure, false self, I wanted to be like him, because I didn’t know or believe that God could do the same with me. ( I really wanted to be a clone of him to be honest.)
Part of the plan for him was raising up leaders. I was to be one of them, though this was a day by day learning curve that still goes on today. And what is the training? Regularly working through challenging situations having to make difficult choices and decisions, but not to just get through them, to be transformed through them. So as long as I want I life without challenges, and a life in which I don’t have to make tough decisions and choices, I will exempt myself from the calling of God on my life, and disqualify myself. Ans what is that calling on my life? To lead, make decisions, and to raise up other leaders.
Here’s what my friend Brennan Manning had to say about this in The Rabbi’s Heartbeat.
“The lives of those fully engaged in the human struggle will be riddled with bullet holes. Whatever happened in the life of Jesus is in some way going to happen to us. Wounds are necessary. The soul has to be wounded as well as the body.
To think that the natural and proper state is to be without wounds is an illusion.
Those who wear bulletproof vests protecting themselves from failure, shipwreck, and heartbreak will never know what love is. The unwounded life bears no resemblance to Jesus.”
BH / Manning