Romans 5:4 “And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation”.

This scripture makes it clear that character doesn’t just happen. Character must be developed through patient endurance. Just writing this makes me shudder. I don’t like to sign up for anything that requires patience and/or pain. This is one of the reasons, among many, I am not a candidate for plastic surgery or tattoos. I am a pain wimp. In addition to pain avoidance, I also avoid waiting, confrontations, whining (in others).

The Wikipedia definition of endurance is “the ability of an organism to exert itself and remain active for a long period of time, as well as its ability to resist, withstand, recover from, and have immunity to trauma, wounds, or fatigue.” This definition gives me pause as I consider the application in my own life and leadership.

Although I don’t sign up for pressure, trauma, wounds or fatigue, these things seem to happen all on their own. The act of living in this broken world guarantees that we will need to endure some of these trials and stresses. “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world,” John 16:33.

David is a great example of someone who had his character developed through many trials and stresses that he endured as he waited for God to fulfill the promise of making him king over all of Israel. As David was persevering through evading Saul and being exiled from his home, his patient endurance was apparent and ultimately rewarded. David had a chance to speed up his promised kingship and return home by killing Saul but instead chose to obey God’s command of honoring Saul’s authority. In 1 Samuel 26:24 David says, “Behold, as your life was precious this day in my sight, so may my life be precious in the sight of the Lord, and may he deliver me out of all tribulation.” David’s prayer was on its way to fulfillment. His ability to lead well was honed and strengthened by his endurance and heart for God.

As we ask the Lord for more influence and step out in faith to lead, our character must grow to enable us to fulfill the call on our life. Development of our character is needed in order to lead well. David’s example of leadership speaks to the importance of strong character in those who lead: “So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, and guided them with his skillful hands,” Psalms 78:72.

Perhaps you are experiencing a trial or you are waiting, sometimes not so patiently, for a specific answer to prayer and feel that it is slow in coming. It is easy to get discouraged and lose heart. As you go through the hard work of developing character, I pray your hope is renewed and your resolve is strengthened to endure this development process. The growth it brings and the benefit it can be to those you lead may be exactly what someone needs. “If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer,” 2 Corinthians 1:6.

So, I guess, I unknowingly signed up for pressure, trauma, wounds, and fatigue after all. Leading and living for God requires this. Although this could intimidate me, I choose to believe God when he says: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing,” James 1:2-4.