Doing the Hard Things

When Joab saw that the battle was set against him both in front and in the rear… 2 Samuel 10:9

Some things at work are easy. We answer emails, fix easy problems, write simple proposals, close deals we knew would close. Other things are more challenging. In fact, given our choice, we often punt on certain projects indefinitely. Firing someone is never fun. Delivering bad news to a client or boss isn’t either. Confronting a co-worker often feels like it will take more effort than it’s worth. For this reason, we often find ourselves preferring the easy stuff rather than the hard stuff. However, our spiritual formation calls us to embrace the hard aspects of our vocation.

Consider Joab. In the battle referenced above, he finds himself fighting two enemies simultaneously. The Syrians stand before him, the Ammonites attack from behind him. No general wants to face a battle on two fronts, but Joab encounters this situation and acts decisively. He chose the best of the men to fight with him against the Syrians and placed the rest of the men under the command of his brother Abishai to fight the Ammonites. Hard call. Abishai could have demanded a 50/50 split of all the troops, good and bad. Perhaps it would have been better to put the better troops with Abishai, and keep the greater number to ward off the Syrians. We often have no good answers in these situations. Regardless, Joab makes a hard choice, and God rewards him. Both enemy armies flee and Israel triumphs. Joab experiences victory because he chose to make a hard decision.

My wife and I were discussing hard decisions I face as a pastor. It’s not easy to administer church discipline, ask volunteers to step down, or rearrange programs and staff. You face many challenges in your vocation as well. As a mother it’s not easy to know when to give grace to your kids and when to administer discipline. In these situations, we must remember God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind. Pray hard. Make a choice. Stand on it. It’s never easy to do the hard things, but like Esther, God has put you there for such a time as this. Embrace your call. Do what has to be done. This is a critical part of your spiritual formation. Act decisively today my friend.

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