I believe procrastination is the number one enemy of your life mission. You know what youre supposed to do, but you dont get around to it. You keep putting it off. Thats a deadly enemy. But a close second is discouragement. If Satan cant get you to put off your life mission, hell try to make you quit altogether. Hell neutralize you.
If Im going to fulfill the purpose for which I was made, then I must resist discouragement. Galatians says: Let us not get tired of doing what is right Do you ever get tired of doing whats right? Sure you do. Because its easier to do the wrong thing than the right thing.
When youre discouraged, youre ineffective. God cannot use discouraged people, because discouraged people are the opposite of people of faith. And God uses people who have faith. When I am discouraged, Im saying, It cant be done. Thats the exact opposite of saying, I know God can do it because hes said
I have a few questions for you. How do you handle failure? When things dont go your way, when plans dont happen the way you want them, do you start getting grumpy? Do you get frustrated? Do you start complaining? Do you have a pity party? Do you finish what you start? How would you rate yourself on persistence?
The Bible says you need to resist discouragement. Dont give in without a fight. Nothing worthwhile ever happens without endurance and energy. When a stone sculptor is trying to sculpt a masterpiece, do you think the first time he hits the chisel with the hammer everythings going to fall off and it will be a beautiful sculpture? No. He has to keep hitting it and hitting it, chipping away. And thats the way life is. Nothing really worthwhile ever comes easy in life. You keep hitting it and going after it and little by little your life becomes a masterpiece.
The fact is, great people are really just ordinary people with an extraordinary amount of determination. Great people dont know how to quit.
Im sure many of you are discouraged. Some of you are discouraged over your children. Their lives are not going well. Some of you are discouraged about your marriage. Its not at all what you thought it was going to be. You feel deflated and disappointed. Some of you are discouraged about your ministry. Or about your finances, or your health, or the economy, or an unanswered prayer.
I want to say something to you. It may sound mean, but it isnt. Its the truth. I say this in love. If youre discouraged, thats your choice. You have chosen to be discouraged. Discouragement is always a choice. It comes from thinking discouraging thoughts and you can change your thoughts any time. You have a choice of what youre going to focus on: either your purpose or your problems, Gods power or your weakness, Christ or your circumstances. Its your choice.
Great people fight discouragement. Heres a tip to help: When you get discouraged, ignore it. Just say to yourself, I dont have time to be discouraged right now. Im too busy fulfilling my life mission. That doesnt mean youre a Pollyanna and pretend that everythings great. Life is a mixture of good and bad. You can be realistic, but you also need to be optimistic because you are a Christian. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. And Lo, I am with you always, God says. He will help you, and he will strengthen you. Faith starts with optimism.
Some of you have been praying for something specific and you havent yet gotten the answer. In Habbakuk 2:3 God says, These things I plan [for your life] wont happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, do not despair, for these things will surely come to pass. Just be patient. They will not be overdue a single day. Gods timing is perfect. Our church claimed this verse from Habbakuk for 13 years. For 13 years we had no building of our own, and the church kept getting bigger and bigger. Wed say, Everybody else has a building. How come we dont have a building? The reason was that God wanted to put us on 79 acres of land. He had a bigger plan. The piece of property we now own wasnt even available when we started Saddleback. There werent even roads leading to it. God had a plan and slowly, steadily, surely the vision was being fulfilled.
The same is true in your life. Gods delay is not a denial. Just because you havent had the answer or the miracle yet, that doesnt mean God isnt going to do it eventually. It simply means not yet! Maturity is knowing the difference between, No, and Not yet, between a delay and a denial. God says, Dont become discouraged. Resist discouragement. Because there are going to be delays in your life.
Youre going to be tested in your patience by God. The really good news is youre not just going to be tested once, youre going to be tested thousands and thousands of times. Because anybody can be patient once. And anybody can be patient twice. And anybody can be patient three times. So what Gods going to do is test you over and over and over. Why? So hell know how patient you are? No. So youll know.
God tests you, not for him to find out whats inside of you but for you to find out whats inside of you. He tests you so youll know your level of commitment, and he tests you so that you can know his faithfulness. His purpose is to teach you.
Some of you are going through some difficult times right now and you feel like dropping out of the race. Youre discouraged because the situation seems unmanageable. Unreasonable. Unfair. It may seem unbearable. Inside youre basically saying, God, I cant take it any more. I just cant take it any more! But you can. You can take it some more because God is with you. Hell enable you. Remember, you are never a failure until you quit, because quitting means you wont make it to the finish line.
Resist discouragement! Finish the race God has set before you.
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and best-known churches. In addition, Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose-Driven Life and The Purpose-Driven Church, which was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th Century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for ministers. Copyright 2005 Pastors.com, Inc. Used with permission. All rights reserved.