Should Following Christ Be Harder or Easier in Life & Leadership?

by Miles Anthony Smith , Christian Examiner Contributor |

The simple answer to this question is, "harder."

Wait, what?

Yes, you heard me right, and I don't think we do a very good job of talking about the challenges of walking with Christ when we are telling others about our relationship with Him. We should be telling that story more, not less!

Why?

Because there is something meaty to cling to in our topsy-turvy world... it's not just some fluffy religion. God uses the challenges in our lives to refine us for His glory, not ours. That's why it's often not fun in the valley. God will never give us more than we can handle, and it won't be long before He brings us out of the valley and onto a mountain-top where we have perspective to see what He accomplished in us, and how that has better prepared us for the future.

We all like to be on top of the world, but we often don't realize that it takes the deep valleys to fulfill His purpose in our lives. We shouldn't desire for things to be easier in our walk with Christ because it doesn't really benefit us. The longer we follow Christ, the more likely things are to get harder. But He is with us during the trials and gives us true joy and hope in the midst of them! We should seek this true joy rather than "happiness."

Why is Leadership So Hard?

Because real leadership is hard, requires selfless service, and because the buck stops here. Servant leadership, exemplified by Christ, is uncomfortable, humbling, self-denying, painful, and counter-intuitive; nonetheless, following His example is the only kind of leadership that brings eternal results, genuine happiness, and true self-fulfillment.

God has a way of using the crap in our lives to refine us to the point where we can withstand the burden of leadership. Jesus even promised us that we would have troubles in this life (John 16:33). How many preachers have you heard speak on that verse? But Jesus goes on to say that in the midst of these rough times, we should take heart because He has already overcome the world. In addition, He has given us the power and peace of His Holy Spirit to guide us along the way.

There is truly incredible "joy" in living a Christ-centered life even here on earth. But notice, I didn't say "happiness." God never promises our happiness; that is a human, secular concept. He does, however, pledge to give us joy, hope, and peace in the midst of trials; He will never leave us or forsake us.

Plus, our eternal reward is far greater than any temporary happiness here on earth. If our father in Heaven truly knows what's best for us and always watches over us, why shouldn't we trust Him?

He deserves our trust; we must fight the fear and desire for control that often undermines our faith in Christ. Lord, please help us!

Why Do We Tend to "Lose Heart" During the Valleys of Fear?

The simple answer is that we forget to keep our eyes on Him by following His teachings. Instead, we often solely look at the wind and waves surrounding our situation. Christ reminds us to keep things in perspective, as our current situation is a "light and momentary affliction" when compared to eternity. And even when we hear of wars and conflicts or events that seem overwhelming, we are not to fear that it is the end of the world.

I've written a Bible/YouVersion devotional on this topic, Leadership Pain: Hope In The Midst Of Trials, where we examine many heroic, overcoming stories that each began with significant challenges. It is on the fertile ground of trials that the seeds of a mighty harvest are planted. Those seeds, when watered by the acceptance of His plan over ones own, yield abundant fruit later on.  (Plus, there are other themes, on topics that tend to arise during trying times, woven throughout the devotional series, along with what God's written word says about each of these topics.)

Leadership isn't easy, but following Christ's example is worth the effort; plus, he promises us that He will be with us in the trials.

For other content on the topic of leadership, please check out these blog posts of mine:

– Miles Anthony Smith, a writer and Christ follower, delights in delivering solid content for people hungry for answers to their most vexing questions or challenges. He is the author of Why Leadership Sucks™ and Why Career Advice Sucks™.