Before I became a pastor I was a personal trainer for 12 years. During that time, I celebrated incredible success with some and walked through heartbreaking failure with others. I have often told people that, for me, being a trainer was more than setting fitness goals and creating exercise programs for my clients—for me, it was about building relationships.
I walked through cancer, divorce, eating disorders, businesses, and countless other seasons with people, where life was really hard at times. As I became a more experienced trainer, I started to notice patterns in people’s lives that helped them see transformation in amazing ways, even when life got hard. They were able to stick with their goals and maintain a healthy lifestyle in the midst of tough seasons. I also saw people who were unable to bear the weight of those seasons. They would get frustrated and eventually quit.
Isn’t it the same with our spiritual journey? Things get tough, we get busy, and eventually, we get frustrated and give up. What holds a person back from hitting goals or having a deep personal relationship with Jesus? Here are three things I have seen that make all the difference.
When I gave my life to Christ at 25, I had a lot of questions and doubts, and I struggled to leave my old life behind at times. There were times that I thought the struggle wasn’t worth it and that it would be easier to quit. Today, I strongly believe that one of the reasons I didn’t give up was because I surrounded myself with people who loved Jesus and loved me. I made it a priority to come to church every weekend, joined a women’s small group, and found mentors who were further along in their faith than me. We are not meant to be on this journey alone. Proverbs 3:20 says, “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.”
When life gets tough and circumstances change, what is your first response? When things get tough, do you run toward God or do you run away? When we run toward Him, we take on His perspective and He starts to show us our circumstances through His eyes. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Renewing our minds takes time and effort. When I started my faith journey, I had to make a conscious effort to read God’s word daily so I didn’t get pulled back into my old ways and habits. I also read books recommended to me by trusted friends that helped my perspective change. Over time, God slowly changed my perspective to be more like his. As we run toward Him rather than away, we will gain the perspective you need to make it through any circumstance.
One thing I told my training clients during our first session was that failure is inevitable. (Motivating, right?) We all fall, but then we have to choose to get back up again. I don’t know many people who enjoy failure, but when it happens, we have to decide in advance to get back up, dust ourselves off, and try again. As Christians, we live with the assurance “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). If we believe that we have a God-given purpose, there is too much at stake to give up when things get tough.
Wherever you are at in your journey, my hope and prayer for you is that you would know God’s plans for you are good, that you would gain his perspective, surround yourself with godly people, and choose to persevere no matter your circumstances.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:14
Steph Hauber is the Pastor of Kids Ministries at the White Bear Lake campus. She loves hanging with her family and friends, drinking coffee, and being active. Steph and her husband Erin have three awesome kids—Anna, Henry, and Charlie.