Sometimes life just grinds you down.
Bill Hybels talks about people who have “holy discontent” over the long haul, people who are striving to accomplish their life mission for a great number of years. What is a major problem?
Hybels calls it “succumbing to desperation.”
I truly appreciate individuals who work with our legal system or correctional system who have to deal with offenders every day of their lives. They are constantly exposed to people who have not chosen a productive path to life. How do they keep a positive attitude?
People who work with the poor in our world encounter individuals who cannot make positive moves to break the cycle of poverty in their lives. Often they are locked into a lifestyle where they cannot get ahead. Life is such a challenge and they don’t seem to be up to the challenge.
Emergency personnel also concern me. They see people in dire circumstances. Their goal is to put hurting people back together enough to get them to doctors. Sometimes they don’t have a chance to do that due to the severity of a person’s injuries.
I could go on and on, listing jobs where people are experiencing stress due to trying circumstances, situations where one can easily succumb to desperation.
There are people who deal with these situations on a daily basis.
What can a person do when they seem to be fighting an uphill battle? Hybels writes about the need to keep our “hope meter high”. When you have a holy discontent and the Lord is serious about you continuing His work, He does not want you to give up.
Hybels begins with a very important verse from the Bible: John 4:4. “The one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”
First of all, he recommends that you take responsibility for your “hope meter.” You are the only one who can keep it high. He calls this “self-leadership.” What God has asked you to do is between you and God. You don’t have to consult your pastor, your mentor, your colleague; you need to assess the strength of the calling by opening yourself up to God, asking Him to reaffirm His need for you to do the work.
Let me throw in some additional practical advice. Don’t listen to the news of the world. We all know that what gets on the news is mostly negative behaviors. I guess it is human nature to be fascinated by tales of people behaving badly and the news is full of this. Focus on the news can have a horrible effect of your attitude.
In addition, don’t listen too much to those around you. People love to recount negative information [aka gossip] and people would like to see you less on fire for the work you are doing for the Lord. I don’t know if you frighten others as you experience change and commit to a new work or if your commitment makes them feel like they are falling short in their lives, but people are not as supportive as they need to be sometimes.
Focus on what is right in front of you. This is essential. Making general statements hardly helps anyone to accomplish their goals. Going back to my original examples: all criminals are guilty, the poor don’t care about their lives, or trauma victims are hopeless; those kinds of thoughts will suck all the desire out of you to do your work. Focus on the problem that is in front of you with the goal in mind that you are doing the best work you can do, helping the person with an immediate need. You can’t help the world all the time; you can help the person who is in front of you.
Hybels says we are all prone to what he calls energy leaks, things which suck the fuel out of our efforts to do God’s work. When a person who is committed to their holy discontent suffers energy leaks, that means that people around them suffer too. “When hope dies in the leader, the game ends and cause is defeated . . . everyone takes their cue from you” [Hybels, 134-35].
It is important for you to take your passion and find a way to keep it passionate. Know that “the world” is probably never going to be your source of support.
There is only one place that you can get what you need for your uphill battle.
That place is where you have a heart to heart with God.
God is your strength. He is all that we need.