Over the years I have had the opportunity to speak with worship leaders from different backgrounds, including denominations, age groups, and musical styles. I always come away with a wealth of information and wisdom as we recap the journey of their respective ministries. What intrigues me, however, is where the bulk of that wisdom stems from. In almost every case, the well of wisdom was dug in the 'hard place'.

I find that with all of the joys of worship ministry, we cannot escape the forging grounds of leadership. I use the word forge because I think it accurately depicts the process of true leadership development. It's the act of taking a raw piece of metal and shaping it into the desired outcome through the use of fire, anvils, hammers, tongs, etc. I'm sure you get the picture.

As I recount the horror stories of my ministry friends, not to mention my own, it is clear that the greatest tests have produced the greatest fruit- providing that we who are being tested pass the test. The Bible tells us that iron sharpens iron, but there is nothing pretty about that analogy. Two pieces of metal colliding can be brutal, and both pieces walk away with the scars to prove it.

The point of this is to simply encourage any leader who may find themselves in a hard spot. We must remember that God is really in control, and that all things really are working together for our good! We may have had an mental image of what ministry would be like, only to find our image shattered into tiny pieces. Don't let that discourage you, but learn from the experience.

I firmly believe that what made David a great king was his experience serving under a horrible king. What we see in him was an ability to keep his eyes on God, and because of that, he passed the test and was promoted in his leadership. I believe that this is a principal that we all must embrace as leaders in the Kingdom of God.

Man is man, and does what man does. But God is God, and does what God does. He rewards those who diligent seek Him. I will close with a question. Would God put you in a hard place? And if so, why? Just something to think about.

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To answer your last question, if God was able to put such a holy man like Job in those "hard places", I'm not above thinking that he would think twice about allowing (or putting) me in a "hard place".

Jesus was tempted in the dessert. Job had everything taken from him. Paul spent a large amount of time in jail.

I don't ascribe to the 'health & wealth' gospel. The only thing I really have is to hope that God doesn't challenge me with anything I can't handle. However, the basis of my faith is in what I believe that Jesus has done for me already, not on what God may or may not do to me in the future.

I do think adversity builds character. However, the compassionate part of me wouldn't want to wish hardship on anyone. Vernon Law once said:

"Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterward."

Hopefully we can learn from others hardships, but sometimes you just can't avoid it. Sadly...
a light hearted correction to the above mate :o)

'Jesus was tempted in the dessert' - nope, I was ( and frequently am ) tempted by the dessert,
Jesus was however, tempted in the desert.

Sorry pal, you'll have to forgive me , I'm british :o)

BTW, an excellent post and an excellent response, I've just and so recovered from nervous breakdown and I have to agree with you both , whole heartedly.

God Bless
That is really funny! I didn't catch it the first time that I read it!

I will be praying for you Phil!

God Bless

Good one Phil! Silly spell checker can't read/red/read my mind... j/k =)
Wow! After fasting for 40 days, Satan came and tempted Jesus in the dessert!
Are you guys Singaporeans? Ariel and Wayne are talking about serious stuff and all you can think of is food? The dessert? The ice-cream, waffles and apple pie? The chocolate mousse and ...

Ok, I admit it. I AM Singaporean. That's my excuse! :D

Seriously though, one thing I watch out for when going through hard times is to make sure I don't become brittle. I want to be resilient, not stiff. Some people get the two mixed up...
The most difficult for me was the pride. Not the "I'm good at this..." kind of pride but the "I can't be transparent and honest with everyone" kind of pride. At my church I have three guys who ask the hard accountability questions. Plus, they are consistent and now know me just about as good as my wife of 10 years. I have to say, through the pouring out of the Word of God, and the brother's God has put in my life, God has truly used "hard places" to draw me closer to Him. In doing so I have found more comfort through my brokenness, and humility. Thanks for sharing Ariel.
Thanx for your input, Fred!
I'm with you, man. Most of my problems stem from within not without.
This is good stuff guys, especially the desserts. But seriously, unfortunately for me anyhow, 90% of the hard places i have found myself in were self inflicted wounds from my stubborn will and sinful nature. But, God in His faithfulness to His unfailing love and steadfast mercy brought me thru inspite of myself. I have gained much wisdom in the end but at a very high cost. To me that is the sad part because Jesus has already paid the price and if I would have been willing to humble myself I could have gotten the same result with much less lamentation. the scripture about "...obedience is better than sacrifice..." has a much more richer meaning to me than it used to. What I'm trying to say is wherever we find ourselves "hard, easy or somewhere in between we must remain diligent in our relationship with Jesus and our Father in Heaven because sometimes it's easier to be distracted and get off track in the easy places where sin can slip in ever so quietly and grow into something out of control before we realize it, But praise be to God we have an advocate with the Father thru Jesus the Son and if we are willing to humble our selves, confess and repent"... He is faithful and just to forgive..." So what ever I am thinking about doing I always ask myself "What price am I willing to pay?"


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