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I wanted to give up. It was humid, and the sun was burning hot, even in the morning. During the quarantine, I walk 3km in the morning and 4km in the evening to keep fit. There are times, especially when the sun is up, that I want to shorten the walk. My mind is telling me that I’ve had enough, and I should head back to the comforts of our home.

As a leader, the temptation to give up and surrender when the going gets tough is ever-present. In the office, one can be fed up by the incessant intramurals and politicking that go on. At home, a father or mother, maybe swamped by marital issues or children’s rebellion. Even in the ministry, a leader’s energy may flag when members of his or her group squabble. A leader may contract some illness, which saps her strength to keep the course.

The Lord Jesus warned His apostles, the early church leaders, that times of testing would come. Before He left them, he plainly said, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33). True enough, all the apostles, except for John the Beloved, died a painful martyr’s death. The apostle Paul testified, “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).

Ever since then, Christian leadership comes at a steep price. Servant leadership is not for the fainthearted. In the secular context, a Christian leader could be ostracized, even persecuted, if he does not “play with the boys”. While serving in the church, a pastor may feel at times that his job is a thankless one.

When you want to give up, where should you draw strength to go on? Jesus said in the verse quoted above that we should take heart because He has overcome the world. He is implying that by His grace, we too can be victorious in this world. That is why Paul can say in the middle of his sufferings the following words, “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. ( 2 Corinthians 4:17-18).

The certainty that, in Jesus, God has prepared a glorious future for us should re-kindle our passion when we are tempted to give up.

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