Struggling Well [Possible?]

I (like you) are walking with friends and loved ones who have experienced  tragic loss. Who have lost sons, daughter, husbands, wives, homes, churches, friends, parents, dreams, hopes, health… and more.

Down through the years, I have had too many dinners, breakfasts and coffee conversations with leaders who still try to understand the attacks… the wrongs and even betrayl not just from foes but from friends alike. Other believers.

I myself have experienced some of these same hurts and pains of sudden loss, rejection and abandonment. Things that ought not happen have happened… yet happened. Things that are not right, especially in Christ’s Kingdom, yet were justified and rationalized, hidden behind denial and often times toxic behavior.

Passionate Christ-followers and leaders alike experience times of deep processing. It is far easier to teach others this truth than to experience myself when I have been are cornered by life. We who believe all must face our unbelief.

Hardship, disappointment and the unexplained comes to those who trust and love Jesus Christ. He told us that we would not escape those in this life. (John 16:33)  The only question to the reality of struggle, pain and the unforseen is tied to our response, and the patterns behavior we adopt over our lifelong formation as a result.

Leadership Development is a topic that involves three components: time analysis, processings and response patterns. Response patterns have to do with what life looks like after these moments.

In the midst of the struggle that does not go away… can (and does) life go on? How do we respond, cope and continue to survive?  Will we plateau and arrest in our development as a Christ-follower, or will we choose to live on?

It is often not until life’s “ought-nots” happen to us, and we are thrust upon our well conceived plans that have failed that we face the question … “Will I be one who loves Christ even through this moment, or will I quietly leave the game, and not finish well?”

If faith is genuine and true, it must be lived.

Authentic faith is a “perfected faith.” It is the wrestling caused by the painful moments that does the refining… challenges our paradigms… deepen our convictions… and brings us to a new level of love for God… wheree we brgin to love God for God’s sake, not our own.

Sometimes that means struggling to live on when life appears to be over. On the backside of the hard moments, and a number of mysteries about the God we love, comes a hard learned truth: Light shows through the cracks of “broken cisterns.”

An even greater truth that begins to surface is that even before the tragedies have occured, the cracks and brokeness were already there, masked over and hidden from the site of others. “Struggles” often just peel away the tape we’ve placed over the questions.  It’s been said that all people who follow Christ and… “All great leaders walk with a limp.” (Dan Alexander, Walking with a Limp)


There is a series of purposes that God accomplishes in the “deep processing.” Each of the lives who have gone before us, and finished well, tell us about these moments.  They are part of the research that surrounds the topic of leadership development (The Making of a Leader, Dr. J. Robert Clinton).

Struggling well is often tied to recognizing purpose beyond the difficult and hope that yields greater courage for the struggle. Though God is not the author of the pain, He uses it (Romans 8:32). Here are five purposes in the struggle:

  • Negative Preparation… bad things happening to good people…  releasing His people into the next chapter of development and faith.
  • Life Crisis… unexplained pain, hurt or loss… building an greater trust and deeper intimacy.
  • Isolation… being alone even in the midst of the crowd… yielding an increased “voice recognition” of Christ’s voice and He deepen convictions.
  • Authority Insights… greater understanding of issues related to submission and follower-ship, even in the midst of disagreement … producing greater dependency and release of control.
  • Leadership Backlash… experiencing rejection in the midst of agreed upon direction… yielding increased self-differentiation and self-leadership

To all who desire to struggle well…

Who struggle because of life’s sudden turns…whose life has been wounded by Christian leaders who have been treated you wrong or unjustly again… who face the unexplained pain of being misunderstood and even set-aside by others… In the midst of the struggle… know we see light shining through the cracks of your brokenness and experience, even when you don’t.

Your questions do not evidence a lack of faith. Instead, they are the revealer of your faith that is being taken deeper. Questions are the paths the courageous tarvel as their faith is taken to new places. They are unmasking of the doubts that reside in each of us, and the kindling of the fire that seeks to forge “authentic faith” from those who seek to “live on!”

To those who seek to struggle well…

We see the courage it takes to live in that place of struggle and battle your questions about our God, yourself and should life go on! And yet we see you continuing to live on.

Coaching Questions

  • Tell me about how the journey has been on late and the challenges?
  • When does it feel the toughest in terms of connecting with or feeling close to God?
  • What do you want others to know in terms of the struggles to move forward?
  • What have been some of your latest challenges?
  • What are some new realizations related either to you? God? Or new realities in your journey with others?

(Written remembering the loss of my long-time friend and brother who challenged many of us to a more authentic faith… miss you Paul)


Terry coaches and mentors breakthrough for entrepreneurial, risk-taking leaders. He has authored several books on leadership and pioneered a variety of leadership development resources and processes with his organization, Leader Breakthru. Terry also serves as adjunct faculty at Fuller Theological Seminary.

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