Leaders face many seasons of ups and downs. Some seasons are full of victorious progress, while other seasons are challenging and even the simple act of continuing requires a great amount of strength. These challenging seasons can be stretching and hard. Despite the difficulty of the season, there are biblical principles that can be applied to give the perseverance needed to continue the momentum. These principles can give you strength to overcome against all odds.
You have a vision, great! You have started building towards that vision, wonderful! You often hear and celebrate the testimonies of victorious seasons, but you don’t often hear about the challenging seasons. Today we want to talk about how to overcome these challenging seasons. While many things can be easy, sometimes you run into obstacles. Sometimes, out of nowhere, the money runs out, half of your team leaves, there’s trouble on the homefront, students are not coming, and the list goes on and on. What do you do when you run into these obstacles?
Challenges come in many forms. The question is, how will you navigate the challenges of a difficult season? Sometimes there are seasons where everything seems to be falling apart and nothing seems to be working. Seasons where everything seems like you’re swimming upstream with no relief in sight. It is during these times you have to decide if you will continue to persevere or if you will give up on the dream that God has placed in your heart.
As a builder of the kingdom, you must overcome obstacles and challenges. God has placed in your heart a vision to build, advance the kingdom, and to raise up disciples. Maybe He has spoken a word that is so big that at times you are overwhelmed. Whatever mandate God has given you, you are now a builder.
God loves to give impossible tasks to ordinary people. He gets pleasure and glory out of His children doing remarkable things for His kingdom. You are called to do remarkable things, but the process is more important than the outcome. It’s the process that helps you overcome challenges.
Challenges can develop you
No matter what challenges you may face, God will always turn them around and use them for our good. There are no challenges too great that we cannot overcome with God. It is important as pioneers to cultivate a heart that is able to carry the vision to pass so that you can endure the challenges. You must learn to be builders despite adverse times; to go against the crowd for the sake of the call. The Bible is full of ordinary people doing extraordinary things because God called them to greatness. The destiny that God had placed in the heroes of the Bible were obtained through immense obstacles and finding the strength to overcome.
The book of Nehemiah is the story of one such character, a man that learned how to overcome all odds and build what God placed in his heart. Here are three principles you can glean from the book of Nehemiah that can help you in your journey to build what God has called you to build.
Give God a Radical Yes
A radical yes will get you through seasons where everything seems to say no.
Nehemiah was one such hero who had a radical yes. In the Bible, the children of God are going back home to Jerusalem only to find their city walls in shambles. During this time, Nehemiah heard about the condition of the city walls and began to pray for a solution. He called on God to help him build the walls.
Before he began his journey, Nehemiah had to have a strong yes. In order for you to give an authentic yes, you must consider the costs. Nehemiah knew the cost of what it would take to rebuild the city walls. Knowing the cost is not the same as knowing the obstacles. Recognizing the cost is simply deciding how much are you willing to give to see the plan come forth. God has placed an ability in your heart to be an overcomer. You must recognize that your part in tapping into this ability is a willingness to utilize what God has given you.
In Luke 14:28, Jesus commands His followers to consider the cost. Many times when God calls you to walk towards what He has laid in our hearts, you first have to wrestle with your ability to say yes. At the early stages of pursuing or building anything worthwhile, the more radical your yes is, the more focused you can be when difficult circumstances arise.
Before Nehemiah lifted one brick or one hammer, his “yes” had to be strong. Learn to give a radical yes to the plans of God. When the odds seem to be stacked against you, it will be hard to preserve. A radical yes doesn’t look back. A radical yes says yes, even when it becomes easier to say no.
Focus, Focus, Focus
Focus on what’s important.
If you are building something it will require your focus. Focus means that whatever is in front of you has your complete attention. What has your interest? What has your attention? Whatever ever has your attention has your momentum. If you focus on the wrong things, the eventual direction of everything may begin to shift. If you focus on the right things, the fruit is progress.
Distractions will arise and slow down the momentum of building. Distractions can come in many forms, from people trying to get you off track, unsolicited opinions, small problems being blown out of proportion, or larger problems that can create hopelessness. Despite anything that may arise, you must learn that all challenges are simply opportunities for you to grow in strength.
Nehemiah encountered the same thing. As soon as Nehemiah started building the wall, opposition arose. Two men, Tobiah and Sanballat, became infuriated with Nehemiah’s plans to rebuild the wall. They rallied the enemies of the children of God and became hell-bent to stop Nehemiah. The enemies of Nehemiah had one tactic: distraction. Tobiah and Sanballat came to Nehemiah every day with problems or rumors with the hopes that Nehemiah would abandon his work and attend to these matters. But Nehemiah refused to stop for anything. Progress did not even slow down even in the face of attack from their enemies. Nehemiah addressed the issues that needed to be addressed, but it was never at the cost of progression. The discipline of continuing despite what may occur required focus.
Many visionaries struggle with distractions. But if you can rise up like Nehemiah and refuse to leave what you are building, the enemy will have no choice but to leave. Learn to realize that not every distraction requires your attention, every challenge is not the end, and every problem is not without a solution.
To carry something from conception to completion requires the ability to discern between problems and distractions
Nehemiah encountered both, but he had enough discernment and wisdom to know what was a problem and what was a distraction.
Opposition can help you grow.
Many times when dreams are in the embryonic state, we tend to romanticize the response we will receive. The reality is that many people will only respond to the finished state of things because sometimes they cannot see what God has placed inside of you. You can use opposition as a tool to help you grow. Opposition is simply an exaggerated distraction. The key to overcoming is to not allow opposition influence over the process.
Opposition rose up the moment Nehemiah received favor from God and the king to build. The greater truth is that sometimes God uses opposition to test areas of our heart and to allow us to grow in strength. God used the opposition that rose against Nehemiah to help him become a strong leader and a person of influence and hope among his people.
God’s ways are always higher than our ways. In His kingdom, God wants you to love those who come against you. If you can do that, nothing and no one can stop you from building what God has placed in your heart.
Many men dream, but few build the dream! Many men plan, but fewer see those plans come to pass. The difference is learning how to overcome against all odds. Challenges may come, obstacles may arise, but when you learn how to overcome, you will rise above. How you navigate these challenges will determine your success. You are called to be an overcomer, even against all odds!