Tag Archive | Perseverance

Christianity and the Development of Character, Scholarship, and Leadership

“We also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope,” Rom. 5:4, NKJV

Character. Scholarship. Leadership. Those are fundamental tenants of the doctoral program in which I am enrolled. As I reflect on these principles, I see that they not only apply to my educational journey but also to my spiritual journey.

Character is the core of our being. It’s the thing that determines if a person handles accomplishments with humility or pride. Character reveals if someone is trustworthy, honest, or values loyalty. Character is not who others think we are, but it’s who we are when no one is watching. While we can fool others sometimes, we can never deceive God because He sees our hearts.

In my doctoral program, scholarship refers to the program’s aim to train students how to have informed views (as opposed to believing something without knowing why) and then to appropriately apply what we learn. As I think about scholarship in relation to my spiritual walk, I am drawn to Paul’s instructions to Timothy in 2 Tim. 2:15 (NKJV) to “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” As Christians, we must be assiduous about studying Scripture so that we can correctly apply the Word to our lives and share it with others. As we learn and internalize the Word, it will have a profound impact on our character.

Finally, leadership involves having influence and power over others. The Bible shows examples of how leadership was used for good and for evil. For example, when David was king, he used his power for self-serving interests when he took advantage of Bathsheba and subsequently arranged for her husband to be killed (2 Sam. 11). We also see positive examples of David’s leadership throughout Scripture. One instance that stands out to me is how David carefully instructed Solomon about Solomon’s new role before David passed away (1 Kings: 1–9). As king, David had led many others, but at that moment he was leading his son.

Leadership is multi-dimensional. A person doesn’t have to have a title to be a leader. Furthermore, one’s leadership can be passive (1 Pet. 3:1). The bottom line is that we never know who’s watching us and the impact that our behavior will have on others. It is important that leaders be persons of good character. As we see in David’s life, there’s a dichotomy of good and bad that can exist within a single person. Yet, even with his shortcomings, David was still a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam. 13:14; Acts 13:22).

Our character is shaped by our life experiences and how we respond to them. I’m not necessarily shouting “Amen” right here because experiences can be painful. It would be great to skip the experiences and get to the end result. (By the way, it would be nice to receive my doctorate by avoiding the tuition payments, long hours of studying, and writing of many papers, but that ain’t gonna happen!) Rom. 5:4 makes it apparent that our character is shaped by our trials. As you go through your character-building experiences, cling to the Word. Not only will you build your own spiritual muscles, but you have no idea how the way you walk through your journey will impact others.

Total Dependency

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“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” Phil. 4:13, NKJV

In January, I embarked on a new venture. It’s one that has been percolating in my spirit for some years, but the timing to begin pursuing this goal didn’t happen until recently. I am now a doctoral student. Even writing it seems crazy because when I finished my master’s program in 2000, continuing my education was the furthest thing from my mind. In fact, school was like a bad word, and now it has worked its way back into my vocabulary and life. Okay, God, I see…You got jokes!

Being a student again has shifted my world. There’s tons of reading, homework, and those tuition payments that serve as a reminder of how costly this endeavor is. (I’m trying to avoid becoming friends with Navient and Sallie Mae at all costs.) When the term began, I was shaking in my boots. I questioned my sanity, kept trying to find an out (e.g., God if this isn’t what I’m supposed to do…), and questioned my ability to complete such a rigorous program.

Managing my school work along with all other hats I wear has been a balancing act. Each day of this new journey re-enforces my need for total dependence on God. Depending on Him not only involved praying my way through difficult assignments, but also listening to Him as I re-aligned my priorities. For a girl who enjoys absolutely everything she does, letting go of some things wasn’t easy.

While I know there are people who complete doctoral studies without merely acknowledging God let alone depending on Him, for me, going through this program without Him is not an option. My support system is great. My loved ones cheer me on, listen to me vent, and pray me through these educational hurdles. As grateful as I am for them, I’m most thankful for the relationship I have with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is through Him and because of Him that I can do all things…including get through this doctoral program that is stretching me in ways that I didn’t know I could go.

What challenges do you face? On Whom are you depending? On our own, we don’t have super powers, but with Christ, we have supernatural strength to complete whatever journey lies ahead.

Defeat Is Not An Option

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“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart,” Galatians 6:9, NKJV.

If we look hard enough, we can find lessons in each of life’s challenges. From the “big” problems to the smaller ones that no one seems to care about but us, there is something we can glean from every situation. Such was the case for me when my daughter’s cell phone stopped working.

On a side note, I think companies build cell phones to only last a specific amount of time so we (consumers) are forced to upgrade. Yeah, I know, this makes me sound like a conspiracy theorist, but it seems like the phones in our household start acting up when we are close to the end of our contract date. Just a little something that makes me go, hmm… Anyhow, thanks to the cell phone insurance, we were able to get her phone replaced for free. (We actually needed two replacements, but that’s another story and feeds into my conspiracy beliefs.)

We couldn’t get Tia’s information to transfer to the new phone because the screen on the old phone had stopped responding to touch, which meant she’d lose everything. I wasn’t so concerned about her losing all her selfies as I was her losing all the photos from our Canada trip. Despite our cell phone carrier’s employees saying that there was no way to retrieve the photos and discouraging information I found online about this issue, I refused to give up looking for a solution. It took a micro USB dual adaptor, an external keyboard, and a lot of patience, but about two weeks and ten dollars later, everything on the broken phone had been transferred to the new one.

There was a great sense of satisfaction when all was said and done. My daughter had even lost hope at one time, and we talked about the importance of perseverance. While I thought I was teaching her a lesson, I felt God teaching me one as well. I was convicted. I’d given up on some other things in my life, but I sensed Him telling me that I needed that same level of determination to see those things through as I had with retrieving information from that broken cell phone. Thus, my passion for some goals and dreams have been re-ignited.

What about you? What’s something that you have given up on for whatever reason? What mental obstacles have you allowed to get in the way? Our thoughts play a big role in our actions. The mind reveals the inner workings of the heart. What do your thoughts uncover about the essence of your being . . . your core identity and beliefs? If God has made you a promise, but you have given up on it ever coming to pass, then your heart is saying that God is a liar. However, His word says that He’s incapable of such (Numbers 23:19).

I had to face the ugly truth that I’d lost hope about some things that He had promised. It was a sobering reality because I don’t consciously think God is a liar. But, actions always speak louder than words. My behavior indicated that I didn’t really believe Him. Thanks to my daughter’s broken cell phone, I’m on the move again, taking action on some things that I’d let collect dust. It may take some sweat equity, tears, and prayer, but most of all, it will take faith.

As I re-start my journey, I invite you to travel with me on your own, trusting that God is leading the way.

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