Written and summarized by Curt Hendley
Business consultant Debbie Leverett spoke to the Job Seekers Network on May 4 about The Art of Resiliency. She shared with the group that she enjoys teaching about resiliency due to her experience with numerous and sustained adversity in her life. She said when she experienced her first real trial, she wanted to hold a pity party and stay in it, but found that that can be dangerous, especially during prolonged times of difficulty. She learned that circumstances don’t take us away from God, and that it is important to learn from both success and failure.
Debbie recalled the story from Matthew 14 in which Jesus made the disciples get on a boat and sail without him, and before they reached their destination they ran into a storm. Jesus Himself remained above the storm, and helped Peter to as well.
Debbie shared several definitions of resilience:
- flexible, pliable, supple; quick to recover, buoyant, irrepressible
- the power to return to original form after being bent, compressed, or stretched
- the ability to face adversity and still find hope or meaning
Every one of us has a large supply of resilience, Debbie said. It involves behaviors and thoughts that can be learned. It is not a trait that some have and others do not. Once we learn it, we have a greater capacity to face adversity and survive without circumstances holding us back.
God has made us promises concerning our resilience:
- Psalm 34:19—Many adversities come to the one who is righteous, but the Lord delivers him from them all.
- 1 Corinthians 10:13—No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it. (NRSV)
- Deuteronomy 31:6—Be strong and courageous; don’t be terrified or afraid of them. For it is the Lord your God who goes with you; He will not leave you or forsake you.”
Debbie pointed out two things that ought to be obvious, but we too often forget: 1) Change will keep coming, and 2) God’s kingdom is unshakeable.
She said there are four pillars of resilience: Commit to go the distance, Acquire perspective, Live with intentionality and purpose, and Cultivate a lifestyle of course correction. When you commit to go the distance, you must be self-disciplined and not have a victim mentality. When you commit and quit, you only reinforce negative character traits and make it easier to quit again. The choices you make ever day define, build, and reveal your character. In Joshua 14:6ff, Caleb displays lifelong commitment, and the reward that comes with it.
When you acquire perspective, you realize that any given time of life is only one frame of film in a three-hour epic. It is a season, and seasons pass. It is full of teachable moments if you can recognize them. The important thing is that you do not allow a trial to define and direct who you are. Nothing is insurmountable.
When you live with intentionality and purpose, you begin with the big picture in mind. What is God speaking into your life right now? What are you living for? What is keeping you from your purpose? Philippians 3:13-14 says, “…one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.”
When you cultivate a lifestyle of course correction, you make a conscious choice to develop character. Astronaut James Irwin has said that his crew’s four-day flight to the moon required slight course corrections every 10 minutes. What does daily course correction look like for you? Take a few moments at the end of every day to examine what has gone well and what needs to be improved.
Debbie concluded with the simple admonition to “choose life.” Decide to be magnanimous, generous, grateful, and wise. Seek out wisdom in every situation. Realize that life is a marathon and train appropriately, because today’s choices will take you into the future.