Challenges come in all shapes and sizes. You may have a challenge at work which requires extra-long hours on a special project. You may be dealing with a personal challenge such as a financial setback. Sometimes the challenge we’re facing is a result of our poor decisions, but other times we’re up against something that is totally out of our control.
I know there are a lot of challenges for ministry leaders, too – difficult people, financial and building constraints, and perceptions. [I wrote about those challenges here].
Here are eight ideas for responding to a challenge:
Those famous words in James 1 sure aren’t easy! Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Look for an open door
The gift of a problem, challenge, or constraint is that it forces us to look for an open door. It causes us to ask questions and figure out a new way. Often, the biggest breakthroughs in life come from being constrained by a challenge. For example, a space challenge may force a congregation to start a new service or plant another church. A health challenge may force us to become more fit. A schedule challenge may help us become more disciplined. What new door is open during these struggles?
Find time to be creative
We must find time to think when we’re up against a big problem. It may seem counterintuitive, but take a walk or a hike, listen to some music, or just spend time thinking. Being creative requires effort. Here are some thoughts on being creative.
Talk with people
We read in Proverbs 15:22 that plans go wrong for lack of advice but that many advisers bring success. When we’re up against a struggle, seek out someone wiser than you to help get through it. There is no doubt someone else has dealt with this same challenge and can give you some encouragement, perspective and advice.
A committed heart will look for a solution, a non-committed person will look for an escape. Even with the challenge you’re facing, stay committed to your calling and your commitments. There’s no point in giving up.
Seek God’s Wisdom
James again encourages us here: If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. (1:5) Another verse that I memorized in high school was from Jeremiah 33:3 – call to the Lord and he will answer and tell great and unsearchable things you do not know. One good thing about challenges, it causes us to pray more desperately and trust God more fully.
Keep Working Hard
Too often we give up just before the tide turns. Don’t coast. Sometimes a challenge comes because you’ve lost momentum. Keep getting up and getting things done. Keep making progress and taking action. As they say, it’s easier to turn the wheel when the car is already in motion.
Do What Is Right
There are probably some easy options for dealing with a challenge. You may ignore it, blame someone else or try to hide it all together. The best response may not be easy and that is to do what is right. Let’s take, for example, a financial challenge your dealing with. The right thing to do is to get the facts together, stop spending, continue (or begin) tithing to the Lord, make an aggressive plan to pay debts and do what you must to make enough money so this can happen now. If it’s a relationship problem, you may have to take the first step, say “I’m sorry” and begin to do what is right. Most people know what is right – and we need to do the right thing even if it is hard.
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