Our church opened Glacier Bible College this year, and you should see the vistas from the picture windows at the main lodge, looking straight into Glacier National Park. (I have considered dropping out of life and becoming a student again.)
My husband, Matt, usually puts in full weeks as a pastor, but this was going to be an extra heavy three weeks for him. He was scheduled to be a professor at the Bible college for a week, on top of his normal pastoral duties. That meant counseling, meetings, and sermon prep, plus planning hours of lectures and preparing homework for students. It meant three weeks without a day off.
It’s hard for me, as a wife, to see my husband go through a stressful, exhausting season. But I decided that dumping pity on him was not going to be helpful. So I chose to speak the language of perseverance.
The Language of Stress
Maybe you’ve never noticed, but we all have language we use when God allows strenuous, difficult seasons in our lives.
Sometimes we speak complaints.
Sometimes all we can talk about is what we’ll do when the strain is over.
Sometimes we use our words to draw pity from others.
But God puts a heavy emphasis in his word on persevering, and there is a certain kind of language that comes with this. Consider when Paul writes to Timothy and gives him this instruction:
Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 2:3 ESV)
Do you hear that? “Soldier up!” he says.
This kind of talk is not popular in our culture. We have a growing tendency to want our people to avoid hardship. You see it in parents who try to insulate their kids from failure or any kind of difficulty. You see it in a friend who advises her friend to bail from a marriage when it gets at all uncomfortable or unhappy. You see it in wives who implore their husbands to back out of commitments because they seem too stressful.
But we should want our people to be able to endure hard times with great victory and in a way that brings glory to God.
So here are some practical ways to speak perseverance into our people’s lives:
- Give a cheer in the morning. My favorite is to say, “You’re doing it! I’m so proud of you!” I also like to go retro and say to my husband, “Eye of the tiger, Babe. Eye of the tiger.”
- Check in during the day. When you know someone is laboring through hard stuff, you can text and say, “How ya holding up?” I like to text and say, “I’m praying for you right now. I’m asking God to give you what you need to make it through today.”
- Verbally acknowledge what is hard. Try saying, “I know this season is exhausting and challenging. I see how hard it is for you.” We are not supposed to complain about anything, but there’s nothing wrong with saying, “This is hard.” It always feels good to be seen, and it feels less lonely.
- At the end of the day, speak about the value of the end game toward which your person is persevering. I told my husband that I knew he was exhausted but that I was so proud of him for investing in the lives of these students. “It’s costing you a lot,” I said, “But you’re teaching eternal truths and presenting the gospel. These things are going to make a difference in students’ lives forever.”
Personal Perspective and Habits
Of course, all of this has to start with our own perspective and habits in regard to the trials of life. Do we persevere when things get hard? Do we value the end results of difficult tasks? Do we value the maturity God is working in us, as we struggle and grow in hard times? Or do we whine and complain and try to get out of difficulties as fast as we can?
We can’t encourage others in something we don’t live ourselves.
You know to whom I speak most, with the language of perseverance? Myself. I start with myself. First I learn how to “soldier up” through difficulties, and then I can cheer on my people to do the same.
What words of grit and perseverance need to come out of your mouth today?
With love from Montana,