Have you ever felt like you were the victim of circumstance?
Have you ever cried out kinda, “why, oh God me?”
Have you ever just said to yourself, “wow, this sucks why do I have to go through this?”
In my profession I have the humbling honor to sit with people every single week who are hurting and broken.
Whether it’s an out-of-work single mom, an indebted business owner on the brink of divorce or the self-employed whose been plagued with serial illness and calamity, every week I hear from people stuck in a truly tough spot.
The fact of the matter is: we have ALL, at one point or another, experienced an event or season that was extremely challenging. This is the fact and the way of life: in this life you will face hardship. It is a universal principle.
It’s how you respond to that hardship or circumstance that forms the basis of who you’re becoming, your character, your legacy, your life!
Author, leader and pastor Andy Stanley has this little tiny book called “Five Things God Uses To Grow Your Faith” and in it he suggests that “pivotal circumstances” is one of those 5. Now take out the word faith and just end the title: “grow you” and I think Stanley’s principle still stands no matter who you are or what you believe.
The concept is very simple: everyday circumstances are a mechanism for your own personal growth. But especially the tough ones.
And what I tell people when I sit across the table from them is this: you have two options, two paths when faced with the storm: you can head into it with indifference and rejection OR you can face the storm with hands, heart and mind wide open for what God wants to teach you, show you, grow in you.
Andy Stanley is also fond of saying:
Everyone gets somewhere but few people get there on purpose…
The principle is incredibly instructive for this conversation because how you respond to pivotal circumstances will determine just how purpose-filled your end destination is!
Here’s a couple simple but profound tips I try to deploy when choosing growth in the thick of a pivotal circumstance…
ONE: always step back and ask a question first
Like, for starters: why is this happening to me? Is it really an “angry-finger-pointing-magnifying glass-God” or is as a direct result of a decision that I made…? I know this is theological in nature but its a question every single person must answer: do things happen by random chance and dumb luck OR do things happen as a result of a rather magnificently orchestrated and grand purpose?
If you haven’t answered that question yet in your life, I strongly urge you to ask it and to recommend that others start asking it!
Starting with and answering this question is so vitally important because if you can’t say to yourself when the going gets tough, “its for a reason… its for a reason… its for a reason” then we are back to the trivial, nonsensical and cruel view of God and the “accidental world.”
TWO: commit to believing that every circumstance is an opportunity for growth
I guess what I’m learning, at least, is that tackling life’s every day challenges is so completely about perspective or “worldview” because your mindset is truly everything.
Its your starting point. Its the core of your self-leadership. In fact, recent studies show it can literally dictate whether you move forward in your organization. (The mindset you carry into a team meeting for example. Some people are far more likely to be given ownership of a program, plan or task and others not so much. see the evidence here.)
Sure, growth hurts… but it’s the pathway and mechanism for who you’re becoming! It’s the pathway for anything interesting or worth doing… its the pathway for legacy… its the pathway for maturity and you gotta square up with your approach to growth.
So maybe that’s you… maybe you’ve entered the fray… you’re in the thick of it right now. well you have really two options: defiance or the road to growth.
Which will you chose… in your marriage/key relationships? In your work? In your parenting? In your leadership?