Striving to Succeed
How much influence do you believe your attitude has on your life and ministry? A lot? Some? None? Most people would probably say that our attitudes are housed somewhere in our minds and that they are primarily the outflow of how we are thinking. While I would agree with that line of reasoning, I would add a caution that attitudes are not solely intellectual issues. An attitude may begin somewhere in the mind, but it flows into other areas of our life. For good or for bad, your attitude(s) permeates your emotions, your will, your activities, and even your faith.
Attitude may seem like such a small thing, but, in reality, it is a major influence in our life. For the Christian, there is an expectation that our faith would have the mastery over our attitude. In theory, we should be people with a positive outlook in life because we have the divine nature of Christ, the promises of God’s Word, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the continual renewing of our mind. We should be characterized by a hopeful prospect in life.
But I remind you, by way of personal experience, that you will likely need to fight diligently to maintain this type of perspective. Your life and ministry have been established for the glory of God and there are at least three forces that will seek to oppose this: A fallen world system, which is anti-God; your flesh, which can never be fully sanctified and is only suitable to be crucified; and Satan, who is portrayed as a roaring lion that roams about looking for prey upon which to pounce.
I’m going to leave you with a few things to consider from the life of Nehemiah, a man who was facing tremendous obstacles as he strove to succeed in a great work for God. Though your circumstances and his are most likely very different, there are principles that should be applied to the core of the situation, regardless of the details. Take time to learn them. Maybe you are encountering some very real opposition from forces that are seeking to neutralize your ability to reflect the glory of God. These enemies are raising questions and, if not answered scripturally, they can cause you to develop a defeatist attitude.
Is it a Futile endeavor?
Nehemiah 4:1-2 — “But it came to pass, that when Sanballat heard that we builded the wall, he was wroth, and took great indignation, and mocked the Jews. And he spake before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, What do these feeble Jews? will they fortify themselves? will they sacrifice? will they make an end in a day? will they revive the stones out of the heaps of the rubbish which are burned?” Any work for God is going to face opposition and the reason you find yourself in a dilemma or in a ministry that exceeds your abilities is because God has purposed to do His work through you. Your obstacles are not imaginary, but neither are they insurmountable. Galatians 6:9 provides an attitude adjustment for those times when we start thinking it is pointless: “Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”
Is it a Fragile endeavor?
Nehemiah 4:3 — “Now Tobiah the Ammonite was by him, and he said, Even that which they build, if a fox go up, he shall even break down their stone wall!” You will likely experience fear that you will not be able to finish what you have started. Maybe the words of Christ continually run through your mind: “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” and it frightens you into thinking that you can’t do the work. Our ministry pursuits can seem very fragile until we gain confidence in the true Master Builder. Ecclesiastes 3:14 offers a word for those times of doubt: “I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.” It is God working His work through you!
Is it a Faithful endeavor?
Nehemiah 4:4-6 — “Hear, O our God; for we are despised: and turn their reproach upon their own head, and give them for a prey in the land of captivity: And cover not their iniquity, and let not their sin be blotted out from before thee: for they have provoked thee to anger before the builders. So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work.” Commit to and engage in prayerful dependence and faithful diligence. Remember: Faithfulness is what God requires of you; fruitfulness (or success) is up to Him. (I Corinthians 4:2; John 15:4).
Is it a Faltering endeavor?
Nehemiah 4:10-11 — “And Judah said, The strength of the bearers of burdens is decayed, and there is much rubbish; so that we are not able to build the wall. And our adversaries said, They shall not know, neither see, till we come in the midst among them, and slay them, and cause the work to cease.” Recognize that you will not always feel capable. Acknowledge that, by yourself, you cannot do this, and learn to discern the voice of the enemy who will only speak of your eventual failure.
Is it a Fearless endeavor?
Nehemiah 4:14 — “And I looked, and rose up, and said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, Be not ye afraid of them: remember the Lord, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses.” Refuse to allow fear to dictate your decisions; think purposefully upon God and His truth and then stand strong in the power of His might. (Ephesians 6:10).
Is it a Finished Work?
Nehemiah 6:15-16 — “So the wall was finished in the twenty and fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty and two days. And it came to pass, that when all our enemies heard thereof, and all the heathen that were about us saw these things, they were much cast down in their own eyes: for they perceived that this work was wrought of our God.” You just haven’t reached the last chapter yet — keep laboring, keep building, keep proclaiming the Word of God, keep your attitude right — and you will see what the Lord can do through you!