We each face huge challenges. But, in the place of our deepest pain, God can do the most amazing work. Enjoy the video!
The Gift of Your Influence
Your 6 Unique Qualifications
Qualification #2: Your life challenges
On July 30, 1967 a 17-year-old girl dove into the waters of the Chesapeake Bay. Misjudging the depth, her head slammed into the bottom of the bay, her neck was broken, leaving her without the use of her arms and legs. She was trapped inside her own body, a prisoner of paralysis. She writes, “There I was lying in the hospital bed in the summer of 1967…. In my pain and despair, I had begged many of my friends to assist me in suicide. … begging my friends to slit my wrists, dump pills down my throat, anything to end my misery. …”
As it turns out, this young woman did not commit suicide. Instead, she went on to author 50 books, receive dozens of national and international awards, and become one of the most influential Christians of all time. I’m talking of course about Joni Eareckson Tada. Her life challenges became her platform, giving her instant credibility with millions of people worldwide.
The same could be said of Nick Vujicic (Voy Chech) who was born in Melbourne, Australia in 1982 with no arms or legs. We could say, “What a horrible tragedy!” But he isn’t saying that. He’s busy traveling the world, speaking to audiences, helping them find a way beyond the obstacles they face. On top of that, he’s the star of my favorite short movie, Butterfly Circus. Check it out here.
Sometimes our life challenges are the result of our own bad choices. But God can redeem even these life challenges and use them for good if we place them in His hands. A good example would be Charles Colson of Watergate fame. On June 21, 1974, he was sentenced to prison. But out of that sentence came a worldwide prison ministry called Prison Fellowship, 30 books, and numerous awards. As a result, thousands of prisoners and their families have found hope, help, and healing.
Whatever your life challenges are—poverty, addiction, abuse, loss, cancer, homelessness, disability, incarceration, or whatever—they can be part of your unique qualifications to make an eternal difference for good in the lives of others.
But you need to go to God and get the grace He has for you in the place of your life challenge. In our places of greatest pain, we can meet most meaningfully with God and receive the greatest healing.
1. Empathy. Joni Eareckson Tada barely noticed people with disabilities before her accident. Now her whole ministry is built around people with disabilities. When you’ve experienced pain, you can empathize with others who have experienced that same kind of pain.
2. Credibility. I could talk to people with disabilities about rising above their circumstances. But I start with zero credibility. However, I can talk to people who are going through bankruptcy because I went through bankruptcy. Your life challenges give you credibility with people who have gone through similar life circumstances.
3. Message. Your life challenges can help formulate your message. Here’s where God needs to be a big, big part of the equation. We gotta take our hurts to God for healing. We gotta put our setbacks in His hands. We gotta keep coming back to Him and listening to Him until we get what we need that’s gonna transform us. Without God changing us, we have nothing to offer our world. God must meet us in our place of need if we’re gonna take Jesus to the place of need in our world. Find your fulfillment in God (not in ministry) so you have something of value to offer those in need.
4. Platform. Your life challenges help define who you’re gonna reach. They give you access to a group of people. They give you instant understanding and almost instant rapport. As Christian Comedian Michael Jr. says, “Your setbacks become your set up.”
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