Of the many character traits, none are more important than resiliency. Resiliency makes other virtues like patience effective. Patience turns into commitment, determination and perseverance because of resiliency.
Psychologists have attempted to define and answer questions about resilience and those who possess it. Psychology Today describes resilience as “that ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever. Rather than letting failure overcome them and drain their resolve, they find a way to rise from the ashes”1
One of the byproducts, which can be good or bad, is a total dedication to a cause or task no matter the opinion of others. Therefore, resiliency can however be mistaken for pigheadedness and arrogance. As Bob Knight once quipped, "I fortunately have never worried about irritating people."2
Whether it was Lt. General “Stonewall” Jackson, General George Patton or Robert Montgomery Knight, men with resilience are not concerned about the public opinion polls but their duty to perform the task they believe is right.
If convinced of the action, nothing is going to persuade them to alter their course. In sports or the Marine Corps, disciplinarians who value mental toughness instill it in their team or platoon to ensure victory.
Whether it is success in starting a business, victory on the battlefield or a win on the gridiron, resiliency is a must. It is not the only important character trait but without it defeat is inevitable.
Unfortunately, the American Church has lost its resiliency in the things that matter. There are many reasons for this lost virtue. The main culprit is the loss of manhood.
In days gone by that produced better men and better societies, resiliency was an expected part of manliness. Yet, in our metro-sexual world men are expected to be failures, blame others for it and get in touch with their emotions with their therapist.
Among past generations it was said, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” Instead of whining about it, we were told to get up and rub some dirt on it.
Resilience is a missing and an important trait that must be renewed if we are to see reformation in our society. In Jesus’ parable of the sower, he described three types of defective ground due to a lack of resilience.
The first ground lacks resilience due to lack of knowledge.
“When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.” —Matthew 13:19
Though celebrated as bliss, ignorance is a crushing vice. So many men in the Church do not understand the gospel of the kingdom and as a result do not see its urgency.
The reason is because we have watered it down to the point of no meaning. Christianity has become a fairy tale for children and a romantic fiction for old ladies.
To eradicate the falsehood that prevails in our society, we must preach the Word (2 Timothy 4:2) because it is only the truth that will set us free (John 8:32).
The second type of ground lacks resiliency because of tribulation or persecution.
“But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.” —Matthew 13:20-21
Vince Lombardi said, “Teams do not go physically flat, they go mentally stale.”3
Such is the case with the modern American Church. We are not lacking in physical ability but lack spiritual mental toughness.
The American Church has more than enough money, property and adherents to change the world (remember, it only takes 12) and yet we cannot even restore our own land. Yes, we have abandoned true Christian faith and practice but why is that?
Jesus said because of tribulation or persecution we do not endure. In other words, we are big sissies!
We have leaders who do not even have enough guts to get on Larry King and proclaim God’s Word lest we are ridiculed and called names. This reminds me of what Jeremiah told his countrymen in Jeremiah 12:5.
“If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?”
What we are experiencing here in America cannot rightly be labeled as tribulation or persecution. If we cannot endure today what will we do when true oppression arises?
The third ground is those who are more concerned about personal prosperity above determined faithfulness.
“He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.” —Matthew 13:22
Haggai rebuked the post-captivity Jews for their lack of resilience to rebuild the house of the Lord in Haggai chapter 1. The reason why they lacked the commitment and determination to rebuild Jehovah’s Church was because they were more dedicated to their own personal affairs.
We are to be an industrious people. Remember, Paul said if you don’t work you should not eat (2 Thessalonians 3:10) and those who do not look to the affairs of their family are worse than infidels (1 Timothy 5:8).
However, Jesus provides the context for the Christian life.
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” —Matthew 6:33
We must restore the resilient Christianity of the Reformation to save our society and build a better future for our posterity. At this stage, it just might take us several decades of total commitment, sacrifice and determination to begin to turn the tide. Are you willing?
- Psychology Today, “Resilience,” accessed January 7, 2014, http://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/resilience
- Bob Knight, “Special Section,” accessed January 7, 2014, http://www.knight880.com/special/stories/quotes.shtml