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I’m planting a church, we are in the pre-launch phase, and I’m learning a ton about the power of struggle. Progress is happening, we are advancing the launch strategy, we are seeing positive momentum and we are encountering struggle around every corner!

This process is a huge weekly (Ok, daily!) struggle as we step into this adventure! Stepping out and creating something new in a city is really hard and the struggle is real. I know stepping out in faith always invites struggle and I’m still shocked when it shows up.

I know Christians don’t talk about struggle much because we think there is some kind of badge of honor we will get for the “image” of blessing. We convince ourselves that God’s love and calling are connected to an easy life or success. We paint the journey of following Jesus in such positive terms that we rarely admit much of this is really difficult. Think back to how many social media posts there where people actually express doubt, worry, or fear…I’m not seeing many.

What if we have it all wrong? What if the blessing is in the struggle?

What this planting process has revealed to me is how important struggle is to my own heart. Every hard step forward in the planting process where I find real struggle, I also find God molding me into what He really longs for me to be. What I call struggle God calls sanctification (growth, maturity, forward progress, insert what word works best for you!). Here are a few ways struggle is actually a blessing to my soul…

  1. Struggle makes me remember my calling. / This is the dream God birthed in my heart regardless of opposition. Remembering that call helps me to trust in His power and not my own ability. You have the same kinds of callings and dreams in your heart and it’s critical you come back to that leading.
  2. Struggle forces me to choose faith when I am lured to doubt. / The same difficulty that brings doubt also gives me a chance to make the choice of faith. I have to remember that God is working in ways I can’t see.
  3. Struggle leads me to choose joy in the midst of frustration. / I don’t control my circumstances but I do control my attitude. The choice of joy when I don’t understand my circumstances helps me to love others with a full heart.
  4. Struggle challenges me to examine my motives. / Why am I doing this? Am I leading to advance God’s agenda or to seek the approval of people? Am I willing to endure when everything does not go my way? What’s driving me?
  5. Struggle leads me to evaluate strategy. / When problems arise everything gets evaluated. Struggle helps us find the weak spots in our plans and improve.
  6. Struggle pushes me to seek advice. / When things are difficult I find myself sending that one extra text and asking that one extra question to people I trust. We learn best when we learn from others.
  7. Struggle demands I pray more than I worry. / Deep communion with God is found in desperate times. God is waiting for us to fully embrace his wisdom, friendship, strength, and peace as we engage in prayer.

God uses struggle in my life and your life. What we try to avoid is actually God’s way of shaping our lives. I am praying I can struggle on and become the husband, dad, friend, and pastor God longs for me to be. As you struggle I am praying the same for you!