SUMMARY: Endurance, now this is something we all want more of, yet comes at a great personal cost. When I hear the word “endurance” I imagine a long distance runner striving, with teeth gritting, and struggling through exhaustion to reach the finish. This image captures well the physical endurance of a runner. But how do we build endurance in the spiritual life? In this Resolute Podcast, Vince Miller shares five principles to building spiritual endurance.
RESOLUTE STUDY GUIDE: ENDURANCE
Endurance. Now, this is something we all wish we had more of, which we love to see exhibited in the life of others, yet comes at a great personal cost. When I hear the word “endurance” I imagine a long distance runner striving, with teeth gritting, and struggling through exhaustion to reach the finish. This image captures well the physical endurance of a runner and gives us a transferable image of the spiritual champion. One who applies similar principles but with a spiritual emphasis.
Today we are going to be looking at a classic text for the spiritual champion, from Hebrews 12:1-11. Follow along as I read.
“1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. 4 In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. 6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” 7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
So what are the secrets to building spiritual endurance? How can we build endurance in our spiritual life? Well, Paul gives us the method in 5 clear principles:
FIRST – Recall the Endurance of Others. The first step to building spiritual endurance is to look to Jesus. Often when I am facing a spiritual difficulty the only situation I see is my own. My myopic view of the situation is often the first item to address. I often fail to remember that others have suffered just like me. In fact, there is no problem that I have faced that is unique only to me. Gentlemen, we are surrounded by a “great cloud of witnesses.” These are people who have gone before us, who might be laughing at how “hard” we find our hardships. What Paul recalls here is the haymaker, he recalls the suffering of Jesus, who by the way endured more than we will ever know. Paul invites us to look back and consider and reflect. To make this practical, I know it can be very beneficial to have people who have endured the same things we have endured as a spiritual mentor. They, if grounded in God’s Word, can be a mentor-coach through the difficulty you are facing. For example, I have a friend named Rich who suffered a horrible job loss about a year ago. If I was going to talk to someone about a job loss it would be him. Today he loves to coach men through job transitions as his personal ministry and today he is VP of Global Training for a large organization still with a passion to help men through this spiritual challenge. This kind of mentor-coach of this kind can be great for personal and spiritual perspective.
SECOND – Weigh the Facts of the Situation. I love how in this Paul get us to look at the facts. He states them simply in a question, “Have you suffered to the point of shedding blood?” I think this is another way to ask, “Come on man, how bad is it really?” I think we all tend to embellish the issues, problems, and difficulties we face, and make more of them than we should. However, please do not hear me say that sin is not a big deal, nor hear me say that it does not often have huge ramifications. But, perhaps we need to see things in light of real suffering. For example, I know I see my children embellish their difficulty all the time. Why? Because often it is their first time to struggle with difficulty, loss, failure, and discouragement. When it is a first time the battle always seems harder. And sometimes they need reasonable parents in their life, who are understanding and yet still challenge them to stay with it. I think as adult men we can find a lot of this in an accountability partner who will both love and challenge and appropriately balance and deliver them as needed for our benefit. For often we need someone else to show us the facts and help us to see them through the fog of our current situation.
THIRD – Maintain a Positive Outlook. Another way to build endurance is to maintain a positive outlook on the situation. We must the see the opportunity in every situation. Gentlemen, life is not devoid of problems, in fact, problems are important for progress. Every business that exists today was built to solve a problem. And in solving the problem they generate a value proposition for users and consumers. We should welcome and love problems because they offer an opportunity to learn, grow, and develop in new ways. But often we view the challenge or discipline only through a negative lens. Perhaps there is a positive bent on the situation? Now I am not suggesting that we should rely only on the power of positive thinking, but the perspective that is spiritually aligned with the possibility of God. We must understand that God has sight of the issue and is creating an opportunity for you to rise above the challenges through the discipline. And if nothing else, discipline is an opportunity for increased endurance when you are facing difficulty and maybe new lessons learned as you look back on it. To build endurance view the situation from God’s perspective.
FOURTH – Submit to Identity Formation. Discipline and endurance built during discipline forms and shapes our identity. We should really look to the men who have traversed incredible feats of endurance for examples of this. Men like Viktor Frankl who lived and endured the persecution of the Holocaust and men like Ernest Shackleton who explored the Arctic region of Antarctica. Their endurance defined them as men. Please hear this. Without endurance, we would never know them. They would simply be like any other men, but because of their willingness to endure we are blessed to read their stories in books like “Man’s Search of Meaning” and “Endurance: The Earnest Shackleton Story.” Guys, discipline is the means by which we are given our identity and sonship. To avoid this would be to avoid our identity altogether. We should welcome, not avoid this identity formation because it will transform us. I know many men who endure sexual sin, marital struggles, job difficulties, and family issues whose story is profound and who I lean on in times of great need. Never dismiss the power of a changed identity through discipline and endurance and spend more time welcoming it rather than fighting the process.
FIFTH – Focus on the Result. As you build your endurance focus on the result. Focus on the result. Just like a runner running a marathon, the finish line may not be in sight for a long time. Now I have never run a marathon, but I would assume that these runners do not have sight of the finish line for at least 26 miles. That is most of the race! But runners that run to keep in mind that even though they don’t see it, it is out there. We too have to remember, it is out there and we need to push hard toward the end of the race. Men our spiritual end game as Christian’s is holiness, and while we cannot achieve this on sheerly our own ability, we can stay in the race with the knowledge that we run a race that He has already won. The spiritual discipline and pain we have to endure here is guaranteed for the man of God. The pain of discipline, the struggle to endure, is the simple part of our human experience and it is how God builds in us spiritual endurance. There is not a man I know who has not traversed through major difficulty or sin in his life who has not come out on the other side with more enthusiasm, perspective, and increased endurance. Endurance has a cost and it requires that we prefer the goal over the pain.
So there you have it 5 secrets to building endurance in your life from the book of Hebrews:
- Recall the Endurance of Others.
- Weigh the Facts of the Situation.
- Maintain a Positive Outlook.
- Submit to Identity Formation.
- Focus on the Result.
Gentlemen, I would love to have you use the member’s guide today, that goes with this podcast, to rank yourself in these five areas. Every one of our podcasts comes with a study guide for use in a men’s group. In fact, many of our men listen to this podcast in a men’s group and use the Resolute Study Guide as their tool for discussion. All these resources are found our website for members at beresolute.org. If you want to find out more about membership or want to become a member simply send me an email at [email protected] or go to our website to learn more about membership. Men, I know you need tools for your spiritual growth and we would love to provide them and be honored to have you utilize them with the men you lead.