"For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more." - Luke 12:48 NKJV
While you may not have ever heard the above quote, you've likely heard it paraphrased before.
"To whom much is given, much is required."
Most people interpret this statement to mean: if you are given a lot of "stuff", then you are required to do a lot of "stuff." In today's world, it's really a statement about our expectations.
For example, billionaires, while not required, are often expected to be philanthropists and individuals who land high-end big jobs, are often required (at least in theory) to do more complex work than the intern who is still in high school, right?
This is how we've come to understand this commonly used phrase. If you're given a lot, you're expected to do a lot.
But what if we didn't take such a linear approach?
I want to present a different way of looking at this statement. My hope is that it will help you understand why, sometimes, struggling through those difficult moments can be good.
What are you struggling with right now?
If I asked you "what are you struggling with right now?", what would you say?
Chances are you would rattle off several challenges you're facing right now. You might share that you're working at a decent job that you wanted to stick with for a while, but the office politics and broken promises from management make it dreadful to get up every day and go to work.
You may share that your relationship has been stagnant for a while and you're unsure how to rekindle the fire that was once blazing and is now barely a flicker.
You might share that you're tired of being so afraid of taking that will lead to the life you really want. You have dreams of being a writer, becoming a chef, pursuing your dream job or starting your own small business, but you're also too afraid to take the steps.
Whatever it is, whatever you are struggling with right now, it's for your good.
OK, I know what you're thinking, probably something like:
"How in the world is my dreadful job or my rocky relationship or my fear of failure good for me? It's literally tearing me apart, how dare you say something so terrible is good!"
I'm sorry if I upset you and I hope I didn't offend you. But I stand by what I said, your struggle IS good for you. Let me show you why.
Remember Evan Almighty?
It's a funny movie that shares the story of Evan Baxter (Steve Carell) who has recently been elected to congress. At the same time, Evan is visited by God (Morgan Freeman) and told to build an Arc echoing the Noah's Ark story.
Where the stories differ is that Evan's wife Joan (Lauren Graham) believes that her husband has gone crazy and decides to leave him to live with her parents. As Joan is driving, she stops at a diner. There she meets God, disguised as a waiter and ends up telling him the whole story. She explains how she doesn't know how to deal with it.
This is my favorite part of the movie, I'm smiling just writing about it.
After she tells him the story, God asks Joan:
"If someone prays for patience, do you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient? If they pray for courage, does God give them courage, or does he give them opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for their family to be closer, you think God zaps them with warm, fuzzy feelings? Or does he give them opportunities to love each other?"
I think we can all agree that in order to appreciate any blessing, we need to be prepared for it.
I think it's safe to assume that we also agree that in order to get the things we want, we have to work for them and prepare for them, so we can properly handle those things when we get them, right?
So, let's get back to those struggles...
Our struggles, our challenges, all the things that we're dealing with, are the stepping-stones to prepare us for what is to come.
That dreadful job may be teaching you how to be productive in a difficult environment. That way, when you're promoted or you move on to your dream job, you can handle the pressure of the work with ease.
That rocky relationship you're struggling with may be the opportunity for you and your loved one to remember why you fell in love in the first place. That your relationship isn't about all the tangible things that you've surrounded yourself with, but the time spent together, the quiet talks sitting out in the car late into the evening where you would really listen to each other.
And what about that fear.
That fear that you have that has kept you from the life you secretly yearn for. What is that fear teaching you? What opportunity is that fear providing for you?
Perhaps it's giving you the opportunity to accept that nobody knows the future. No matter how much we think about it and worry about what could happen or what might happen, the truth is, nobody knows what WILL happen.
That anxiety you feel about failing at your goals, may just be a test of your willingness to try something new.
All I'm trying to say is, in order to get what you want, sometimes you have to endure the lessons and difficult times, so learn the patience, strength, and skill you need to be successful.
No, it won't always be pleasant. It won't be easy, but I haven't found anything worth doing that was easy.
There's always a challenge and a struggle. There's always a moment where you have to expand your mind, push your limits and rise to the occasion.
But those are the moments that create growth. Those are the moments that change your life. Those small wins will be the building blocks for your future.
So to help you understand why you struggle and why it's good for you, I want to end with this.
The passage of scripture "...For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required," may not be about you being given something and now you have to do something.
Perhaps it's about how you WILL be given something, but in order to get it, you'll be required to work for it. You'll have to endure some struggles every now and then. You'll have to take on a challenge that scares you. You'll have to survive something that feels like it is set up to break you.
But when you do...
When you conquer that struggle and take that first breath of victory, you'll be a new person.
You'll have tools that you didn't have when you first started. You'll have resources to call upon the next time you see a similar challenge. You won't be as afraid as you were the last time you were met with a struggle. You'll be stronger, wiser and more prepared than ever before. All because you chose to do the required work.
What do you get for doing the work?
Honestly, I can only speculate what you'll get out of doing the work of enduring your struggles. But I can share my story.
I started sharing my writing with the world on June 2, 2015. Before then, I struggled to believe in myself enough to share anything.
Since starting this blog, I've been struggling through believing what I have to say matters and fighting against wanting to quit. Dealing with the anxiety of publishing a new post and nobody leaving comments, nobody joining the email list, sometimes makes me feel like I made a mistake in putting myself out there.
I worry that maybe my posts are too long or my writing isn't polished. The fear that this blog will never grow beyond the few friends and family that occasionally like a post frequently runs through my mind.
I struggle to keep a writing schedule of publishing every week. Even allowing these last few paragraphs to exist on the internet is difficult, because it's a glimpse into my mind. A glimpse that I wouldn't normally share with anyone.
The blessing of publishing, the gift of pushing through my fear every week (or so), is that I can see my own growth.
I know I'm not the same person I was a few short weeks ago. Today, I'm a blogger helping people turn anxiety into courage. I believe that there's much more for me to accomplish through this blog and most importantly, even with all the anxiety and fear I have about pursuing my goals... I still believe eventually, as long as I keep doing the work, I'll surpass my greatest expectations.
That's what has been given to me as my gift for doing the work of persevering through my struggles, and I can honestly say I'm better for it.
So I say to you, embrace your struggles, accept the challenges, allow your anxiety and fear to teach you and do your best to press on through them.
I think you'll like who you become in the process.
Next Action Steps
Take a blank sheet of paper and fold it in half.
On the left hand side write Struggle across the top. On the right hand side write Lessons. Then take a few minutes and write down 2-3 struggles you're having on the left side and the lessons or bigger purpose those struggles may be trying to teach you on the right side.
This exercise will require some time and reflection. Don't allow yourself to give a surface answer like I struggle with anxiety and it's teaching me to be self-sufficient. Dig deeper and try to find some deeper meaning as to why you may be struggling with your issue. Ask yourself what is it that I'm supposed to learn from this struggle?
For example: Here's a snippet of my Struggles and Lessons paper.