2 Tim 3:16-17
16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.
17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.
“Mental toughness is many things and rather difficult to explain. Its qualities are sacrifice and self-denial. Also, most importantly, it is combined with a perfectly disciplined will that refuses to give in. It’s a state of mind – you could call it ‘character in action.’
Mental toughness is essential to success.
Mental toughness is Spartanism, with all its qualities of self-denial, sacrifice, dedication, fearlessness, and love.
Brains without competitive hearts are rudderless.
If you’re lucky enough to find a guy with a lot of head and a lot of heart, he’s never going to come off the field second.
Teams do not go physically flat; they go mentally stale” (Vince Lombardi).
It’s just not natural to welcome or enjoy criticism. The Father equips each of His children and prepares them for success in the tasks He has for them. Reproof and correction are necessary components in the process. A proper response to criticism is necessary. Wherever there are people, there are sparks. What you do with the sparks makes all the difference in the world.
Job 5:7 People are born for trouble as readily as sparks fly up from a fire.
Troubles in life come one way or the other. Since the time of the Fall of Adam and Eve, life has been hard. It is the direct result of the Fall.
17 The ground is cursed because of you [Adam]. All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it.
18 It will grow thorns and thistles for you, though you will eat of its grains.
19 By the sweat of your brow will you have food to eat until you return to the ground from which you were made. For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return.
Sparks and troubles are part of our DNA. Is it a mistake to think we are always at fault for what happens in our lives? Of course! In many cases this may be true because we reap what we sow. But hard times are not simply a matter of cause and effect. The fact is we are fallen creatures living in a fallen world. The world is not out to get us. The world does not know we exist. The world is not sentiment. There are not random, senseless, cosmic forces at work to somehow punish us personally for what our first parents did.
Why is there personal suffering? Consider Joseph. Have you ever wondered why the entire account of creation takes up only two chapters in Genesis, but the life of Joseph requires 15 chapters to tell? Joseph’s difficult times and his response to them provides life lessons for us all.
There was a great deal of suffering in Joseph’s life. It began with the jealousy of his brothers. They wanted to kill him. But instead they plotted against him and betrayed him. He was sold into slavery in Egypt. Because of his intelligence and excellent moral character he was admired and promoted.
But for the same reasons he was unjustly imprisoned and basically left to rot. But prison was preparation! There the Father prepared him for what was coming next. Upon release he was elevated to the highest position available in all of Egypt, second only to the Pharaoh. Joseph was the second survivalist in Scripture, Noah the first. He developed a survival plan for a predicted famine that saved countless numbers of people.
But he is greatest achievement was inward. He went from the potential throes of anger, resentment, and bitterness to gracious forgiveness for his brothers who had so wronged him.
Joseph described the reality and theological foundation for all that it happened.
7 God has sent me ahead of you to keep you and your families alive and to preserve many survivors.
8 So it was God who sent me here, not you! And he is the one who made me an adviser to Pharaoh– the manager of his entire palace and the governor of all Egypt.
50:20 You intended to harm
me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could
save the lives of many people.
REFLECT & PRAY
Joseph learned and placed confidence in the “Who” and “whys” of the “whats” of his life.
Father I know and believe that you are always at work preparing me to be able to face and excel at whatever You have for me to do.
The Father utilizes discipline to direct us away from ungodliness and to increase our fruitfulness. He will use difficult people and circumstances to prune away any deadwood – attitudes, behaviors, and relationships that do not fit a child of God (Stanley).
Reproof, criticism, correction, and discipline are not intended to be pleasant. Dark valleys are common to us all. When we are in the midst of the dark nights of our souls, we do not always respond well. We often fail. Temporary setbacks are normative. But overcoming sorrow, heavy burdens, and ill-treatment is the Father’s plan and purpose. The fulfillment of His will on earth as it is in heaven is the Father’s focus. We would do well to focus on the same.
Heb 12:11 No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening– it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.
Life is full of trouble. But in the hands of a loving God, our suffering is being used for eternal purposes (Stanley).
Charles Stanley provides some helpful steps.
- It’s important to respond well and evaluate criticism correctly.
- Do not immediately reject the comment, blame the person, or defend yourself. Instead, consider what was said, and ask God to help you discern if it’s true.
- Thank the person for his interest in you and explain that you’ll reflect on his observation.
- Evaluate the criticism and determine what exactly is under scrutiny—your beliefs, your character.
- View this as an opportunity for growth, and if necessary, apologize.
- Instead of allowing criticism to lead you into anger and self-pity, you should let it do its work in your life.