Something I like to remind myself often is that opposition is a part of life. It was Vox Day who first directed me to this quote by Marcus Aurelius:
“Begin each day by telling yourself: Today I shall be meeting with interference, ingratitude, insolence, disloyalty, ill-will, and selfishness – all of them due to the offenders’ ignorance of what is good or evil. But for my part I have long perceived the nature of good and its nobility, the nature of evil and its meanness, and also the nature of the culprit himself, who is my brother (not in the physical sense, but as a fellow creature similarly endowed with reason and a share of the divine); therefore none of those things can injure me, for nobody can implicate me in what is degrading. Neither can I be angry with my brother or fall foul of him; for he and I were born to work together, like a man’s two hands, feet or eyelids, or the upper and lower rows of his teeth. To obstruct each other is against Nature’s law – and what is irritation or aversion but a form of obstruction.”
Ultimately what Aurelius says here is no different to what Jesus told us about when he said that people would oppose us. Or what Paul told us about, when he said that through many trials and tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22). This life will be full of opposition, and when one source of that opposition fades, sooner, not later, but sooner, another one or more will present itself. Sometimes more than one at a time.
This is especially true if you are in leadership in any context. The more significant your leadership is, that is the more people you lead, or the more people you have responsibility for, the more varieties of opposition you will face. You must not only be prepared to face it, you need to face it with an attitude that says, “When I come out on the other side of this I will be an improved person because God is using this to teach me something I need to know.” As much as we don’t enjoy them, trials are good for us, and they are used by God to refine us and grow in us maturity.
Some leaders give up in the midst of the trial and they never actually get a chance to learn what it was that God was teaching them. This we must be determined not to do. The only way to have a life free of trials and tribulations would be to already be perfect in your being and in your role. Jesus was perfect in his being, but he needed to be perfected in his role (Heb. 5:8-10). So even the most perfect person who ever lived faced trials. Trials are God’s way of telling us that we have something he wants to teach us, or something he wants us to overcome, or something he wants build into us that we did not already have.
So, instead of praying that the trials would go away, ask God to help you to learn what it is that he wants to teach you quickly. You can begin to face them with a degree of stoicism like Aurelius, but that is not enough for true maturity to begin to set in. You need to know more than just that you will face trials because people will oppose you for one reason or another. You need to also know that you will face trials because you have a good God who wants to teach you and make you more like him (1 Peter 1, Romans 8, Heb. 12).
You will face opposition, make the best of it you can by learning what you did not already know before that trial came along.
Matthew Littlefield writes to think through some of the current issues facing society, the Church and whatever else comes to mind that might be interesting to process. Matt's focus is usually historical or scriptural, though he will address current issues from time to time as well. He is a co-author of The Ezekiel Declaration and the book, Defending Conscience, How Baptists reminded the Church to defy tyranny. He blogs most days at YoungGospelMinister.blogspot.com.
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