Resilience comes from the Latin resiliens “to rebound, recoil.” It can be used as both a verb and a noun.

The character trait of resilience describes the ability to recover and comeback from times of loss, unforeseen change, depression, loss or misfortune. Resilience is often tested in and through unexpected adversity or non-anticipated change. The art of resiliency is the ability to learn how to survive, adapt, bend and even thrive in the midst of sudden changes…

Like the year 2020.

Christ-followers and leaders learn to be resilient.

Resilience involves learning to live life differently in the midst of adversity. Resilience is the by-product of growing in one’s ability to protect one’s soul. In the end, resilience is the practice of learning how to cultivate and live out of one’s inner life. Its about growing in one’s ability to live from the inside out.

When life is lived focused on handling problems, duties and responsibilities over an extended period of time, with no little or no attention to the soul, burnout is often result.

Resilience comes when we are able to cultivate a life of meaning, hope and authenticity by focusing first on the inside journey of a Christ-follower, and in caring for issues of the soul. Most of us have not stopped and considered that effort needs to be given to protecting our souls.

The greater we cultivate living life from within, from the place where strength and God’s presence resides, the more we are able to live in uncertain times, and be a resilient people. But resilience is learned, and requires cultivation of our souls.

Protecting Your Soul

Here are a series of ways to protect your soul and cultivate resilience in the days we are facing.

1. Maintain Spiritual Will – Our time right now grows in its difficulties because each of us has so little control over our external circumstances. Adversity takes away our false sense of control. “Spiritual will” has to do with deepening our commitment to go after that which we can control, our own self-care and cultivated growth. Scripture captures the link between loving others and ourselves.

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ — Matthew 22:37-39

Resilience requires the courage and commitment to say no to the continuous demands, and yes to carving out time for the care of you, by you. Strength and fuel to cope comes from within, and that which is unseen. Self-care means soul care. A well care for soul provides the source from which the “new” ideas comes and which surfaces alternatives and new directions in the midst of adversity.

Only you can decide to take care of you.

2. Lean into the Battle

As humans, our instinct is often to “flight” as oppose to “fight” when adversity strikes. The the idea of “leaning into the battle” feels counter-cultural, because it is. The most resilient among us are those have practiced leaning into the obstacles and life’s conflict. It can mean pain by embracing the adversity, and moving toward the conflict, not away, but it also means new growth.

The key to “embracing” our situation is letting go of the outcome. Once you are free from how the situation must turn out, you are now able to see ways it could work out, and begin to discover how to work your way through the adversity, adapting and even growing in the midst.

The Apostle Paul’s life was filled with adversity and the unexpected, and yet he did not run from those times. He leaned in and embraced the adversity, learning that:

“I can do all things, through Christ, who strengthens me” — Phil. 4:13

Randy Paush was a professor at Carnegie Mellon, husband and father of three and was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, given only a few months to live. He gave his students his “Last Lecture.” Randy decided to accept his situation and live out the days he had remaining by making known what he had discovered made a difference in life. He died on July 25, 2008. His life lives on not only through his family but also through the life he left behind because he chose to lean in.

Let go of the outcome and lean into the challenge.

3. Learn to Suffer Well

Adversity often enters our lives unannounced yet it can become the guide that provides hints and even announces our unique Kingdom contribution. You and I learn things when we are tested, about ourselves and our wiring that in previous times were unseen. New insights come when we are tested or go through times of suffering.

Adversity can cause pain, hurt, suffering, and disappointment. Accepting that which is unplanned and unwanted often feels like the last thing we should do. But suffering can produce personal growth and strength as we learn that times of unwanted struggle can reveal new insights as we withstand the impact of a a battering storm.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;  I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” — Psalm 46:10

Let your hands drop… go limp, instead let the Lord strengthen your resolve, deepen your soul’s strength, and deepen convictions related to what’s most important in life. Suffering surfaces new resolve.

Helen Keller fell ill, lost her sight, her hearing and fell mute while she was a child. She used her suffering and adversity to find her voice and clarify her calling and contribution to others.

Suffering is often the soil of new growth.

4. Practice being Present

Soul strength is built over time. We are not as strong as we often think. Issues of compassion, gratitude, perseverance and humility are learned traits produced over our lifetimes. They are a fruit of God’s deeper work in each of us and are a result of practicing putting that which you believe into behavior.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. — Galatians 6:9

Be present. Show up. Stay in the struggle. Resist binging or falling into repeated times of escape. Practice. Practice. Practice. Go through the time, no matter how long it takes, adding strength to the soul.

It happens over time, often in the in-between.

5. Face Fear

Fear perhaps is the key fundamental emotion that holds us back — fear of failure, losing people, success, the unknown, the future, being able to know which way to go, making a change, and more. Our pain can be caused by our own fatigue and inability to feel we are measuring up to the challenge and test.

The soul needs you and I to stop living with an ongoing “judgmental” outlook toward ourselves. Judge sin yes, but allow ourselves to be quicker at forgiving ourselves. Mistakes or being blindsided by the challenges happen. Offer yourself the gift of grace. The same gift you give to others. “Being” is shaped more than “doing” during these moments.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.. — Romans 8:28

Learning over time to trust, depend, hope and know God in new ways is true about about becoming more resilient. It is often the by-product of a long obedience in the same direction. Though everything in these moments are screaming out to “do,” moments of adversity are seeking to build a “resilient heart.” One that can make it through the loss of control and be at peace. It is a soul that has learned to recognize Jesus’ voice, discern the Spirit’s leading and align with the plans of the Father, even in the midst of the storm.

An authentic journey is a journey through life, not around life.

6. Take the Next Step

It is often not about where the steps are leading, or how many steps are yet to be taken, but taking the next step. Protecting the soul is choosing to live every day, no matter how uncertain. It means letting the tears flow when required. It means still looking for the answer even in the darkness. It means faithfulness to that which you know, as opposed to being paralyzed by that which you don’t know. It means choosing to live sovereignly as opposed to situationally.

Each step takes you closer to what lies ahead, and each step aligns you in greater ways to God’s purposes. A long walk is a series of many steps, repeated over time. There is a destination, but getting there is a result of going there. Whether your battle is within or without, as you walk the future unfolds.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” — Hebrews 12:1,2

Resilience is forged by getting back up, and by getting back into the battle of each day. The soul feeds and is strengthened on resolve. Resolve is built not by running a sprint, but by running the race set before each of us. A race run in the strength God alone gives to those who chose to be resilient. The more we run… the more we will run, regardless of the obstacles thrown before us.

Obedience starts by taking the next step.

Resilience… needed to day. Needed more as we face tomorrow.

Resilience is learning how to rebound, adapt, flex, bend and even how to thrive in the midst of sudden change. Resilience is a by-product of intentional protection and care given for our souls, whether we face COVID now or the new challenges we will face in the days ahead.


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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