Pain Before Gain: The difference between just surviving hardship and coming out on top

     Author Sam Chand writes, “Before God promotes us, he takes us through pain to purify our hearts, deepen our dependence on him and impart spiritual wisdom.”

     My good friend Mark Buckley calls this “redemptive pain.” Sooner or later, we all face personal and professional battles. These may come in the form of personal failure, betrayal by another, or a serious family crisis. How we respond to our battles will shape us, for better or worse. It is up to us to trust our heavenly Father to turn the pain from our trials into blessing.

     Thriving in ministry requires the ability to manage storms, as well as grow from them. Leaders that prosper have weathered storms and learned to become better leaders because of the storms. Whatever our circumstances, how we react to adversity makes all the difference. As the saying goes, it is not whether you fail but how you respond to failure. As a leader, you are not responsible for everything that happens to you. You are, however, responsible for dealing with whatever happens to you. You can become either bitter or better.

     Becoming better by way of adversity is best understood as being resilient. The necessary ingredient for overcoming the difficulties of life and leadership—and becoming better for having had the experience— is embodied in this principle. The Oxford Dictionary’s definition of resilient is:

1. the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.

2. the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity.

     Resilience is about learning to navigate a storm in a way that makes the leader grow because of the storm. Just getting through the storm is not enough. Take a moment to consider this working definition:

     Resilience is the ability to bounce back from adversity in a manner that increases, strengthens, and improves you by virtue of the adversity.

     Resilience makes the difference between just surviving hardship and coming out on top. A resilient leader sees failure as a temporary setback. He maintains a posture of humility and embraces the truth that adversity also creates opportunity.

     Of course, there is no absolute guarantee that enduring a storm will benefit you. Great leaders can fail terribly and still be great, or they can sink into oblivion. No one is great all the time. But leaders who learn from stormy circumstances and use them to grow in character, skills, and wisdom, do have an edge in attaining and maintaining success. A resilient leader bounces back from adversity better than he was before.


Taken from The Resilient Leader: How Adversity Can Change You and Your Ministry for the Better by Alfred Ells, ©2020. Used by permission of David C Cook. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

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