Coaching Helps Pastors Discover Their Leadership Values

In the ever-changing landscape of leadership, it will be essential for leaders to know themselves and their core values. Modern culture is constantly in flux and influences the church both positively and negatively. Contemporary Christian leadership will require men and women to be secure in their values and exercise their leadership from them. As Delores Ambrose believes, beginning from this position will allow these persons to “choose to have an extraordinary impact on the situations in which they find themselves.”[1]  Every successful ministry includes a clear mission. What helped clarify my mission and purpose? Let me walk you through the same tool I used. Spend time reflecting on these questions and keep at them until you reach a point of certainty.

The Pastor’s Rocking Chair

Getting Clear on Your Mission

Do you ever wonder what your clear purpose is? This exercise helps you see your vision for your life and ministry. Allow yourself 20 minutes of quiet time to think and write your answer in the space below! This is about you, so let your imagination go, write a story and paint a picture of your life with words. Take a moment to imagine you are blissfully happy and healthy and ninety years old. You’re sitting in your rocking chair and looking back over your life and ministry. Answer these questions as fully as you can.

1. Who are you as a person? What is it about you that people value?

2. What have you achieved? What are you proud of? What gives you a sense of fulfillment?

3. Consider how your life unfolded in the following areas; Family, Friends, Career, Health, Home, what you did for Fun and Leisure, what you learned about, and what you did in Service, Leadership, or your Community.

4. Finally, what shows you are truly happy?

Each of these questions communicates something about your mission and purpose. If you need more help, add these questions to the mix.

What most excites you in the world?

What most angers you in the world?

If you could teach three things to others about what excites you in the world, what would you teach?

Your Line in the Sand

Determine Your Core Values

Core values are your fixed position. The consistent and reliable way you respond time after time. They are your north star. Whether or not you are aware of them, core values will always show up in your actions and decisions. You need a line in the sand.

When I was younger and starting ministry, I didn’t have a line in the sand. I was too busy trying to impress my superintendent, fellow pastors, and the people I served. I would do whatever they wanted. My mission was squashed day after day. I was miserable. I felt like I could not say “no.” And I really couldn’t. I didn’t know what I stood for. I didn’t know my line in the sand.

One of my favorite presidents and historical leaders is John Adams. He was the philosopher and idea man behind the American Revolution. After becoming the second president of the United States, Adams revealed the values he used as guide rails. He wrote, “I must study politics and war, so my sons may have the liberty to study painting and poetry, mathematics and philosophy.”[2] Adams knew why he did what he did. He was grounded in his daily decisions. When his back was against the wall, he knew the response he would make time and time again. You and I need lines in the sand. Core values are lines in the sand.

Core values are your fixed position. The consistent and reliable way you respond time after time. They are your north star. Whether or not you are aware of them, core values will always show up in your actions and decisions. When I got serious about my mission, I knew I needed to discern my values. Here’s what flowed out of me.

I value…





These values guide my decisions and actions – no matter what. These show me when to say “yes” and, more importantly, when to say ”no.” You might be asking, how do I discern my values? Make a list. Here’s the way to start. Find a comfortable place, get a notepad, and start writing words that you believe describe you. Some words might be “courageous, stubborn, helpful, loving, compassionate, driven, faith, excellence, commitment….” Spend time with this and write what comes to mind.

You may even want to think about positive words others have used to describe you. Once you have your list, highlight three to five words that resonate deeply with you. These are words that warm your heart and put fire in your belly. Only choose three to five words. You will live by these characteristics and habits when your back is against the wall. These values will need to be your line in the sand. You’ve got to ask yourself, “Will these things I’ve chosen to guide my decisions last when it gets hard? Or will I respond oppositely?” If your core values don’t work when you have to make a hard decision, they are not values but wishes. You will know if your values are right the first time you must say “no” to someone.

Create Habits to Support Your Mission

            Wasn’t it great getting clarity on your life purpose? You have a purpose statement now that can be honed and modified over time. It’s a working document. But every good life purpose statement needs a path or a course. Your purpose propels you forward into action. This requires discipline and good habits.

“In reading the lives of great men, I found that the first victory they won was over themselves… self-discipline with all of them came first.”– Harry S. Truman

Self-discipline determines success. It is the magic bullet to unlock your potential and finally move forward with your life. Self-discipline is the ability to put off what you want at the moment for what you want in the long run. It is a habit of self-regulation for the sake of improvement. Some have said it’s the ability to do the things you don’t want to do. Are you familiar with the marshmallow experiment? Four-year-old children were each given one marshmallow. They could either eat the marshmallow immediately or, if they waited 15 minutes, could receive another marshmallow. The kids who could wait generally became successful and well-adjusted adults.

In contrast, the kids who quickly ate the first marshmallow had more trouble dealing with stress, frustration, and impulse control. Everyone wants a shortcut on how to be more disciplined. But there isn’t one. It is simply a matter of training. It is saying “No!” to the things that waste your life and your time and saying “Yes!” to habits that draw you closer to success. Replacing your old habits and lifestyle with new ones is crucial. There are consequences to your actions. If you want new results and positive consequences, change your actions.

Design a New Routine

            You will only succeed in your leadership values when you learn to say “no” to the old habits. The more you practice, the easier it becomes. Be consistent with what you’re walking away from, and you will see change. You’ll feel a lot better about yourself. Use the following questions to reconsider your new routines and priorities in leadership and life.

My Top 3 PRIORITIES in leadership right now are:

1. _______________________      

2. _______________________        

3. _______________________

My Top 3 STRESSORS in leadership right now are:           

1. _______________________        

2. _______________________        

3. _______________________

What supportive daily habits or specific daily actions could you introduce? Write up to 5 actions that best support your leadership decisions. They must be specific and measurable, so you know exactly what to do and can clearly say you have completed the step!


–   Have 15 minutes of silence or alone time each day

–   Drink 8 glasses of water a day

–   Be at my desk by 8:00 am / leave by 6:00 pm every day

–   Be in bed by 10:30 pm

–   Do at least 30 mins exercise/activity every day    

–  Make all my calls in the first hour of the day

–  Write my top 3 priorities for the day out every morning before starting work

–   Connect daily with my spouse (5 mins listening)

–   Write all appointments down – in one place

Habit                                                                                       Benefit to me

1.         _____________                           __________________

2.         _____________                           __________________

3.         _____________                           __________________

4.         _____________                           __________________

5.         _____________                           __________________

Which of these habits will I commit to and when?

I will start _______________________________________

I will start _______________________________________

I will start _______________________________________    

Final Thoughts

You need a companion on your journey. It would be best to have a team around you cheering, encouraging, and supporting you. Who is holding you accountable? Accountability is not a word we like, but we need it. Name that one person whom you trust and who can legitimately hold you accountable for the plan you’ve just been laying out. If the only name you came up with is your own, that will be a problem. We cannot be our own accountability partner. Using these practical techniques will assist with your leadership development as a pastor. Whether in the Franklin District or other ministry settings, the more you are self-aware, the more impactful your leadership will become.

[1] Delorese Ambrose, Leadership: The Journey Inward (Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, 1995), 13.

[2] New England Historical Society, “John Adams Writes to Abigail: “I Must Study Politicks and War,” 2017,

How to Lead a Powerful and Transformative Group Coaching Session for Pastors

Group coaching is an excellent resource for the leadership development of pastors.

“When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand. Ideas actually begin to grow within us and come to life.”

Brenda Ueland

Group coaching is a beautiful and powerful way to help coachees learn from others with similar needs and experiences. Jennifer Britton suggests, “This peer learning is often as important as the interaction with the coach. Many clients find coaching in a group puts them “less on the spot,” giving them more time to reflect and integrate their insights.”[1] In this model, coachees receive support from the coach and one another.

What Does the Bible Teach about Group Coaching?

While the Bible never directly speaks to group coaching, it offers significant structure about encouraging and supporting one another. For example, fifty-nine “one another” statements exist in the New Testament. We may do these behaviors out of an overflow of our relationship with Jesus, but other people must be involved to fulfill them. Group coaching provides a perfect setting for obedience to these commands. For instance, Jesus teaches his followers to “love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34, New International Version). This commandment plays out perfectly as group members seek and work toward loving and encouraging one another toward resolutions of problems, healthy relationships, and helpful problem-solving.

Another helpful example of applying the “one-another” statements to group coaching comes to us from Colossians 3:16. As Paul reminds the church that they are, indeed, one body, he calls them to “let the message of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom…” (Colossians 3:16, New International Version). Pastors, as church leaders, are still part of the body of Christ. Unfortunately, they are not often the recipients of teaching and admonishment. Group coaching allows these leaders to let down their guard and receive support, education, and counsel from colleagues experiencing similar roadblocks in ministry. The group coaches and cheers one another to God’s best.

What Is Group Coaching?

Group coaching occurs when a coach takes a group of individuals through a coaching journey together to achieve a desired outcome. There is a specific energy and group wisdom in group coaching compared to one-on-one sessions. This energy and wisdom can rapidly help group members achieve their goals. The group becomes a shared learning space where the members can learn from one another. To be clear, coaching groups is not just about getting a bunch of people together and then coaching them for 5 minutes each until everyone has had a turn. Instead, it is the delicate balance of allowing each member to achieve their resolution and providing an overarching direction for the group.

What Are the Benefits of Group Coaching?

The Evercoach organization reminds us that “coaching groups are about more than the act of coaching and being coached. It’s about the connection, communication, and community that comes from not just you interacting with your clients, but group members interacting with each other.”[2] This is the sweet spot. Evercoach suggests that some of the benefits of the group coaching model include the following.[3]

1. Problem-Solving. When group members get together to work on an issue that concerns all of them, the solution will be better because of the multiple viewpoints and perspectives in the room.

2. Higher Engagement. More people interacting with each other will lead to more positive engagement for the group members and more positive results for them from the coaching sessions.

3. Constant Improvement. Group coaching leads to overall improvement for all the group members over time, as the members will be helping each other achieve their goals and collectively work together.

Becoming a Powerful and Transformative Group Coach

A powerful and transformative group coach must employ a model focused on steering every session in the right direction. One of the first skills a group coach needs is setting group goals. A good group coach sits down with the clients and helps them identify and develop their plans, individually and as a group. This promotes a collaborative effort within the group to work together towards their goals with a clear picture in their minds. Secondly, a powerful and transformative group coach facilitates communication. In every group, there are multiple people with very different personalities. A good group coach finds a way to make everyone comfortable enough to open up and communicate. Finally, the group coaching sessions’ main goal is for the group members to grow and work together. So, it is essential that the group coach improves relationships within the group and promotes the best environment possible.

How To Lead Powerful and Transformative Group Coaching Sessions

Group Coaching has five key characteristics that bring the group together and move them forward. First, the group comes together around a shared problem. In my personal experience facilitating group coaching with pastors, their shared problem was a lack of leadership development. The group came together to explore and receive coaching around resolving their need. Each coaching session revolved around a specific ministry problem whose resolution increased the leadership capacity of each group member. Secondly, to solve a problem, group coaching encourages members to ask powerful questions. Powerful coaches help promote a culture of introspection and clear reasoning by asking questions. Thirdly, the coach must teach the group to think of solutions themselves and take action. As each member in the group grows and learns, this benefits the entire group as they collaborate in their effort. They can then apply these learnings outside the group coaching sessions, and continue their growth. Through all of this, the coach assumes a secondary position in the group. While they have a crucial role in ensuring everything goes smoothly, the coach eventually transfers the responsibility to the group so the members can learn to trust themselves.

In an efficient way, here’s how I have used this process in my group coaching experience. The group comes together around a specific teaching topic at the designated time. For example, one of the best topics for coaching pastors revolves around self-care. This area is often a large gap for clergy. At the beginning of the session, this theme was announced, and teaching occurred, offering suggestions for prioritizing the coachee’s needs in ministry. Following the learning, the coachees were asked to clearly define what they wrestle with regarding self-care. After clearly defining the problem, the group was asked to reflect upon their current reality. How is this problem affecting their ministry, family, or self? What obstacles keep them from fully realizing the life and experience they want? Finally, the group worked to develop a roadmap toward achieving their preferred future. Amid all this reflection and conversation, group members listened to, commiserated with, and offered solutions to help one another grow beyond the obstacles to fulfilling their best life. While all this was happening, the coach kept the group on track through all the essential steps.

Final Thoughts

Group coaching is an excellent resource for the leadership development of pastors. The process provides collegiality, shared wisdom, helpful accountability, and the fulfillment of the biblical admonishment to care for one another. Key to the whole process, however, is the willingness of the coach to take a secondary role. They do not make transformation happen. Coaches guide the group, trust the process, and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to and among the participants masterfully.

[1] Jennifer Britton, “What is Group Coaching,” The Coaching Tools Company, July 18, 2022,,focusing%20on%20action%20and%20awareness%20along%20with%20accountability.

[2] “A Beginners Guide to Group Coaching,” Evercoach, last modified 2023,

[3] Ibid.

Keep Your Head When Everyone is Losing Theirs

The measure of manhood may well be keeping your head when everyone around you is losing theirs.

In 1895, Rudyard Kipling wrote the timeless poem, “If.” The first stanza implores us to “keep our heads” when everyone around us is losing theirs.

“If you can keep your head when all about you   
    Are losing theirs

Did Kipling have a time machine? Did he somehow travel to 2020 and quickly escape back to the nineteenth century to write this warning for future generations?

If there is any word which describes 2020, “insanity” would be at the top of many lists. This past week has been no exception. It’s been exhausting, frustrating, and painful at many levels.

Someone has said, “elections have consequences.” All too often the personal consequences are dire. I stayed up way too late Tuesday night (I’m embarrassed to say it was actually Wednesday morning). I thought if I stayed awake I could somehow influence things. So Wednesday I was stressed. My jaw seemed clenched all day. I was so lost in my own thoughts and in such a fog that I found myself ignoring conversations and meaningful interaction with my own family. I found myself glued to the news cycle and talk radio. I kept refreshing my social media for the latest developments. The more I listened and watched the more pain I experienced. I know better. You know better. THIS IS NOT HEALTHY! I was getting sucked into the insanity.

Finally I had to make a decision. It was like facing my addiction all over again. Is this how I want to live? Is this what I want to consume my precious time and relationships? I took action and changed my mind. It’s been a better week since then.

This is what has worked for me, maybe these will help you.

  1. Turn it off. I broke the chain of the 24 hour news cycle. I turned off the TV, the radio, and I set a schedule for when I interacted with social media.
  2. Pick it up. I picked up a book that always inspires and heals me and I read.
  3. Connect. I spent time with a mentor. I reconnected with my friends. And we didn’t talk politics! We encouraged and cared for one another.
  4. Go outside. This week in the northeast has been beautiful. High temperatures and sunshine. Go walk, play, get some vitamin D.
  5. Refocus. What happens next nationally is really out of my hands. I like control but I can’t control this. But what I can control is how I respond. I chose to respond by getting refocused on my “Why.” I choose to double down on my purpose and mission for life. When I focus my mental energy and my actions on what I want to achieve, the noise of insanity vanishes.

Your life is yours to control. You make the most important decisions of your life. You are the constant. You can either be pulled into other people’s insanity, or you can chart your own course.

Kipling ends his poem with this stanza:

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,   
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,   
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,   
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

The measure of manhood may well be keeping your head when everyone around you is losing theirs. Live well.

Surrendered Leadership

How bad do you need to be for history to classify you as a scoundrel?  Paul Martin, in a Huffington Post article, cites some of the worst historical scoundrels like Daniel Drew, the Fox sisters, and Hetty Green.  These folks, and others like them, lived unscrupulously at the expense of others.

Now, how bad do you need to be for the Bible to identify you as a scoundrel?  That’s a whole new level.  But that’s exactly how Phinehas and Hophni are described (1Samuel 2).  They consistently robbed people; slept with whoever they wanted; disregarded authority; and ignored God.  Their story may not raise many eyebrows until you know that these two men were leaders.  They were part of a family that had been committed to serving God and God’s people.  But nothing they did reflected their position as leaders.

Leadership is hard.  If you lead, you get this.  As a country we’re tough on our leaders – from the government to the church and everywhere in between.  We certainly expect our leaders to be people of character and integrity, and we should.  But we also have the propensity to knock leaders down.  We want them to be the best, but we quickly look for their flaws and cheer when those flaws are well known.  Leadership is not for the faint of heart.

And that’s precisely why those who are leaders – especially spiritual leaders – need to pay attention to the details.  While Hophni and Phinehas were disregarding their character and position, God was raising up another leader to replace them.  Samuel was still a young boy but God was shaping him into the kind of leader both God and the people needed.  God gives us a hint of the kind of leader Samuel could be – “those who honor me I will honor but those who despise me I will disdain…I will raise up a faithful priest, who will do according to what is in my heart and mind” (1Samuel 2:30-35).

When it comes to spiritual leadership God looks for a particular kind of person – one that wants what God wants.  Wanting what God wants has a way of shaping our character and increasing our integrity. When temptations challenge our moral fiber, leaders after God’s heart trust God’s strength.  When moral failure happens, leaders after God’s own heart seek forgiveness and restoration.  Spiritual leaders don’t ignore or dismiss their actions they come to terms with the call and grace of God.  God raised up Samuel to do what was on God’s heart and mind.

Whether you are a Christian leader at work, in your home, with you kids, or at your church – God is inviting you to do what is on his heart and mind.  Phinehas and Hophni reveal the destruction unsurrendered leadership creates.  Don’t be a scoundrel!  Seek the heart and mind of God, surrender yourself to God’s purposes and lead well.

Abundant Life is Found Out on the Water

Bread and water are the often joked about references to the food of the incarcerated.  But bread and water are two elements Jesus uses to show Peter the secret to a full and abundant life.

The story begins in Matthew 14.  The crowds have followed Jesus into a remote place.  The sun’s going down and everyone’s getting hungry.  The disciples want to send the crowds into town for dinner.  Jesus has another idea – “you give them something to eat.”  The reaction of the disciples is one that we would share if we were in their shoes, “We don’t have enough…”

  When faced with obvious need, “we don’t have enough…” is our usual response.  I’ve been guilty of that.  We don’t have enough time, money, people, money, time…you get the idea.  We’ve all been there and we’ve all uttered the same thing.  But I love what Jesus does in light of their scarcity.  Jesus says, “Bring them here to me.”  Bring me your resources.  Bring me what you do have.  Then Jesus does what only he can do.  He takes our limits and stretches them to meet the need.

This story is immediately followed by Peter walking on the water.  Coincidence?  I don’t think so.

Peter and the other disciples are in a boat struggling against the storm and waves.  They’re trying to get the other side of the lake to meet Jesus, but they’re stuck.  So Jesus comes to them, walking on the water.  Peter sees Jesus and wants to be where he is – out on the water.  But Peter let his water walking certification lapse.  So he says, “Jesus, if that’s you tell me to come to you on the water.”  If I were Peter, I’d want Jesus to respond with something like, “No. Don’t worry about it. Stay in the boat and I’ll come to you.  No need to get your feet wet.”  But he doesn’t.  Jesus’ response to Peter’s longing is simply – “Come.”

Now Peter has never walked on water but here’s what he has done: he has stepped out of a boat before.  He was a fisherman, after all.  He knows how to lift a leg over the side, set it down, and walk.  So Peter does what he knows how to do.  He gives Jesus what he already knows how to do.  And Jesus does, in those moments, what only Jesus can do.

I’m convinced that this is a life truth.  We give Jesus what we know how to do and Jesus takes it and does what only he can do!

Following Jesus is about being stretched.  Left to ourselves, we usually see what we can’t accomplish.  And that always limits the abundant life Jesus promises.  Jesus stretches our faith when he says, “Give me what you do have” and I’ll take it and do an amazing thing.  Abundant life is found out on the water – when we give Jesus what we know how to do and let him do with it what only he can do.

Last night I attended an event hosted by The Asservo Project (  The Asservo Project, based out of Pittsburgh, exists to combat global human trafficking.  They are a David facing a Goliath.  Human trafficking is currently one of the world’s most profitable criminal enterprises.  There are 40 million victims globally.  At $150 billion annually, this criminal enterprise makes more money than Google, Apple, Yahoo, and Netflix combined.  Since 2010, human trafficking has grown 850%.  Trafficking and sexual slavery is real.  Open your eyes and it becomes so obvious.

This reality is so staggering I couldn’t help but think, “Jesus, we don’t have enough…”  That’s all I could think about on the way home.  How do you even make a dent?  And I kept going back to this story.  Jesus says, give me what you have/what you know how to do and I’ll do what only I can do.

So that’s my current next step.  But what about you?  You may not be passionate about ending human trafficking (I hope you will be) but there is something that you are passionate about.  There is something that God is calling you to and you’re first response is “I don’t have enough…time, education, money, fill in the blank.”

But here’s the spiritual truth.  The only way disciples grow is when they are stretched.  When they say, “Jesus, I hear you, and I don’t know how I will accomplish this but I will give you what I know how to do and I’ll let you do what only you can do.”

Abundant life is found out on the water…so get out of the boat.

Stand up!

There are seasons of life where we come to the end of our ability. Hopefully these are the very seasons that drive us to a deeper place of surrender.

…Hannah stood up.

I’ve never really seen this phrase before.  It seems to come out of nowhere, yet Hannah’s action is a consequence of years of provocation.

Let’s remember the story.  Hannah was the wife of Elkanah.  But she wasn’t his only wife.  In a context unlike our own, Hannah was a product of polygamy.  She shared Elkanah with another woman – Peninnah.  Furthermore, in a culture that placed wealth, privilege, life, and success on a person’s number of children, Hannah was losing.  She had given Elkanah no children, while Peninnah seemed to be very fertile.

Not only was Hannah seeming to suffer from the depression and frustration of a “closed womb,” she was constantly provoked by Peninnah.  This troublesome relationship went on year after year until Hannah was so depressed and broken down that she couldn’t eat and constantly wept about her painful reality (1Samuel 1:1-20)

This was Hannah’s reality until she stood up.  She had enough and stood up.  She was tired of her pain and she stood up.  She was done being provoked and ridiculed.  She stood up!  She was done with the depression.  She was done feeling sorry for herself.  She stood up…and went straight to her knees. Hannah came to the end of herself and to the beginning of God.

There are seasons of life where we come to the end of our ability.  Hopefully these are the very seasons that drive us to a deeper place of surrender.  I cannot…but God can.  Often these seasons arrive after long periods of frustration, pain, brokenness, and maybe even some ridicule.  The time before we come to a place of surrender may find us filled with self-doubt and devastated self-worth.

Hannah offers a beautiful portrait of strength.  She is tired of her present reality.  She wants change – not just for herself but for the people she loves.  I also suspect she wants God to be honored with her future.

Hannah comes to the end of herself and to the beginning of what God can do.  This is a remarkable picture of maturity.  Hannah speaks to me about moving from a life of brokenness into the full and abundant life of God.  And the one act that separates the two realities happens when Hannah stands up and say’s “enough is enough!”  I am tired of existing in my current status.  I want a better future.  So she stands up and goes straight to her knees believing that God is the one who changes our story.

Where do you need to stand up today?  What are you tired of living with?  What are you tired of permitting?  What are the habits or cycles that you’re done with for the last time?  Where have you reached the limits of your abilities?  Remember the definition of insanity – if we keep doing what we’ve always done, we’ll always get what we always got.  Stand up!  And go straight to your knees.

In chapter 2, Hannah offers a prayer of thanksgiving for what God has done to change her reality.  In that pray she pronounces a new path, “My heart rejoices in the Lord; in the Lord my [strength] is lifted high…there is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no rock like our God.”

Stand up today and surrender your current reality to God’s best future for you.  Remember what Jesus said, “the thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy.  I have come that you may have life and have it to the full” (John 10:10).

Ron Geisler (@rongeisler) has shared a tweet with you

Parents are the primary disciplers of their children. The church can reinforce, but can’t replace — Mike Glenn (@mikeglenn)

Ron Geisler (@rongeisler) has shared a tweet with you

To reach unchurched; means to radically realign our focus, time, energy & resources — Mike Slaughter (@RevMSlaughter)

Ron Geisler (@rongeisler) has shared a tweet with you

God chose church 2 be his hands & feet in world; not for dinners & bazaars; it is time for new visionGod chose church 2 be his hands &… — Mike Slaughter (@RevMSlaughter)

Talking With God After Failure

Yesterday I alluded to just how hard it was to worship after I experienced a career failure.  My connection with God wasn’t strong.  I really didn’t want to talk to God – at all!  Not only did I feel like I let God down but I felt like maybe God let me down, too.  Have you ever felt that way?

Perhaps one of the most challenging points of spiritual growth is to stay with God even after failure.  In other words, how do we allow failure to be a springboard to a deeper relationship with God?

As I continue to look into the post-failure life of King David, I’m personally challenged by his reliance upon God.  The first thing he does is to admit his failure.  But the story continues to unfold at a deeper level.  The child that David has with Bathsheba becomes gravely ill.  David remembers what Nathan said – “the child will die” (2Samuel 12:14).  David is undeterred.  He fasts, weeps and prays for the baby to live – even to the point of willingly giving his own life for the life of his son. Unfortunately, the child dies.

Do you see what happens to David, though?  The failure and the consequences of the failure propel him to a deeper reliance upon God.  He doesn’t run away.  He doesn’t brood or feel sorry for himself.  David doesn’t neglect God. David gets even closer. In fact at the end of his life David reflects on the strength of God in those moments of failure:  “The Lord is my solid rock, my fortress, my rescuer.  My God is my rock…” (2Samuel 22:2-3).

Stay in love with God.  Some of the hardest moments of your spiritual formation will take place in the shadows of failure.  Many will run away from God, blaming God rather than seeing what God will do after the dust of failure settles. God is not done with you.  Failure can redirect you to deeper places with God.


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