“Would you like to play the organ?” After hearing what the music instructor could play, my little eight year old heart was shouting, “Yes!” The idea of my hands being able to create that kind of sound was so attractive. I was all in.
Nobody said anything about the fact that my fingers would not do what the instructor’s fingers could do. After the first lesson, I came home and set out to practice my lesson. I still can remember trying to get my fingers to move independently. Somehow, I couldn’t put one down, pick it up, and then put the next finger to the keys. They were all mashed together. When I moved one, two responded!
In every new endeavor, there’s a honeymoon period when your heart is all in. That length of time when the newness is pure adventure– you’re learning, you’re growing. Life is rosy. And then when you least expect it, you hit a hard patch– where nothing is easy. Life is all obstacles. Or it’s just not new anymore. The excitement is worn off. Whether it’s a new relationship or a new team, a new job or a new place, at first, everything is good. Then little by little you see the reality of things and realize that there’s more to this situation than meets the eye. No easy answers, no clear way forward.
Choosing diligence in this place is hard, and the temptation to give up is strong. Questions like “is it worth it?” surface in your heart. The grass looks so much greener on the other side and all. Young leaders might view the difficulties as a redirection of their call. Maybe. But more often, the obstacles, crises, or challenges are a positive affirmation of one’s call and an opportunity for increasing the leader’s capacity. A crossroads of sorts. The Hebrew word for diligence means to sharpen or cut, figuratively, a decision.
Persevering requires a confidence in the Lord’s calling, timing, and agency. Continuing forward means that you believe He is at work, despite the circumstances. This is the cry of the psalmist.
“I would have despaired unless I believed that I would see the goodness of God in the land of the living.”
This is the place of testing, the place where diligence decides the outcome. Committing to moving forward means I believe that God is more worthy, greater than the obstacle or crisis or challenge, that He will be true to Himself. And He always is.
What keeps you going when you feel like quitting?