Fix your eyes on Jesus and the finish line by reading Hebrews 12:1–3 every day for ten days.
Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.—Hebrews 12:2
The leaders who inspire me most are those who lead through suffering.
I think of my mom, who led our family with grace and dignity alone after my dad left.
I think of my pastor who has faithfully shepherded the flock of my home church for nearly four decades, even as he’s endured immense personal heartache.
I think of the apostle Paul who championed the gospel from his prison cell, of the theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer who was executed for opposing Hitler’s regime, of missionaries like Helen Roseveare and Jim Elliot who ministered to others at an unthinkable cost . . .
And of course, I think of Jesus, who suffered for our sake as He endured the cross.
Could it be that the call to leadership is a call to suffer well? If our hearts’ desire is to be like Jesus, and to showcase His mercies to a lost and hurting world, shouldn’t we embrace suffering as an opportunity to shine a white hot spotlight on the sufficiency and care of Christ?
Consider Christ’s words recorded in John 10:18, “No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily” (NLT). This is our mission!
To lead like Christ means to lay down our lives. We surrender our plans to the refining of the Holy Spirit. We surrender our needs for the good of the flock. We cast the crowns of self and entitlement at the feet of Jesus, over and over for the sake of the gospel, and we surrender our craving for comfort, embracing the suffering God allows so we can bear witness to the goodness of God.
- Do you want to lead like Jesus? (I know you do). Lead in suffering well.
- Do you want others to see Christ in you? (Of course!) Embrace the hardships with hope and praise.
- Do you want to follow in His footsteps? (We all do). Make no mistake. Jesus willingly chose the cross, perfectly modeling for us that Christian leadership goes beyond service to sacrifice. Suffer well so that others may praise His name.
Joy and suffering are never mutually exclusive. The joys of ministry are hard as we fight through every trial. Like the heroes of my faith, we keep serving, even as we suffer, because that is what Christ our Shepherd did.
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matt. 16:24–25)
Jesus, thank you for suffering for my sake. Thank you for enduring the cross so that the women I love and serve could be set free from the bondage of sin and become heirs to your kingdom. The suffering in my own life has been filtered through your loving hands. Teach me to use it for your glory.
Reflect and Respond
- Circle back to Hebrews 12:2. What reason does the writer of Hebrews give for Christ’s choice to suffer on the cross?
- Read James 1:2–4 and consider: Have the trials and challenges of ministry produced joy in you? Or something else (weariness, bitterness, callousness)?
- Who is a Christian leader you know who has suffered extraordinarily well? How can you follow their example?
- Download the PDF “How to Endure Suffering,” and reflect on ten principles for enduring suffering well taken from 2 Timothy 1–2.