Now more than ever, leaders need stamina in times of limitation. Sickness, injustice, polarization and people feeling desperate and alone—these can wear down the leader’s strength and passion.
I’ve often asked why at certain times in life it seems like drama, struggle and crisis mass-produce? As soon as we’ve started resolving drama in one area of our lives, people start fighting like cats and dogs in another area. Issues, conflicts, failures, betrayals, bad news—a whole regiment of limitations comes marching toward us all at once.
Our blood pressure numbers go sky-high. Our nerves feel strung as tight as a tennis racket. Frustration becomes a presence in our lives as normal as the air we breathe. We wonder if God has stepped out on us. You know what it’s like. There’s a reason for the cliché, “When it rains, it pours.”
In Acts 12 when Peter found himself in prison, I’m sure he could relate. Not only had the church witnessed the loss of one of its faithful and effective leaders, Stephen, in a bloody, public stoning … not only did followers of Jesus get dragged from their homes, tortured and killed under Peter’s watch … not only did the believers leave Jerusalem in droves, causing the church temporarily to lose its geographical center … not only did Herod arrest and kill Peter’s friend and fellow leader, James … but now, Peter himself had been arrested, taken to prison, and possibly marked for death.
That wasn’t all. Once Peter actually got to the prison, he faced a serious contingent of Herod’s men. Security went way beyond those two guards chained to Peter while he slept. You would think two would’ve been enough—it’s not like Peter could go anywhere. But the Bible says Herod assigned four squads of soldiers to Peter. Those two men chained on either side of him were part of a much bigger security detail set up to cover Peter, probably in shifts around the clock.
So what is “four squads of soldiers”? It is four groups of four, or 16 men, usually working in rotating shifts of four men each—and those in addition to all the regular prison guards and wardens. I don’t know about you, but I need some help understanding this. What kind of man needs all those guards when he’s already in prison? This is not a guerrilla fighter or a highly-positioned political organizer. This is not the boss of a crime ring. This is Peter, an apostle, ex-fisherman and preacher—the leader of what they saw as a persecuted, scattered religious sect that would soon pass away.
Your enemy knows and sometimes believes in your potential more than you do! Guards, walls, giants, chains … but none of these things will stop you when it’s time to move your leadership into a new place.
The Bible says we should rejoice in limitations because the testing of our faith produces endurance (see James 1:2-3). Well, at least we know our limitations are producing the very thing we need to survive them—stamina! With that in mind, there are some things we can do to mitigate the frustration that gets in our way. Let’s look at some keys that will help us transform our frustrations, take hold of peace and build stamina for the rest of our “jail term.”
Worship. Take the time to pray, read and meditate.
Forget the past. Every time you look back, you send your strength in the wrong direction. Let their failures and yours slip into the midnight of forgiveness.
Make plans. One thing that builds me up is making plans for what’s coming my way. It transports your faith into another dimension.
Resist the temptation to bail. We are all tempted to just say, “forget it!” But don’t. And if you do, get back in the race. It’s far from over.
This article was extracted from Issue 5 (Spring 2021) of the AVAIL Journal. Claim your free annual subscription here.
Bishop B. Courtney and Pastor Janeen L. McBath serve as the senior founding pastor and co-pastor of Calvary Revival Church (CRC) in Norfolk, Virginia. For thirty years, they have provided vision and quality leadership for this growing assembly. Together, our Bishop and Pastor have served the body of Christ for more than 40 years with combined educational achievements that include business, engineering and theology degrees. They have been married over 37 years; have four sons, a daughter, son-in-law, a daughter-in-law and four grandchildren. To discover more about staying strong in times of limitation, get Courtney’s new book, Living at the Next Level: Leaders Edition.
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