The process of sifting, coming to that moment when our strength is spent, is how God builds our faith; it is a process that forms new character, tearing away old perspectives and putting fresh truth in its place, according to Wayne Cordeiro in his book Sifted: Pursuing Growth Through Trials, Challenges and Disappointments. How we respond to the challenges and trials in our lives and ministries makes all the difference in the world.
The book, which deals primarily with the types of challenges encountered in church planting work, is divided into three parts: heart work, home work and hard work. Church leadership, particularly in the context of planting a new church, is emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically demanding, and most planters struggle with loneliness and discouragement.
Some of the wisdom found in the book:
- God must first accomplish something in you before he can accomplish something through you.
- Don’t compare yourself to others; the success of your dream ultimately rests on God’s shoulders.
- Wrongly, we try to position ourselves as the person to run to for help, when all along we need to be pointing people to Christ.
- There are two pains in life: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret; you choose.
- Our unstated default goal in life is our leisure, but God’s goal is for us to become like Christ.
- Never sacrifice your marriage or family on the altar of ministry.
- Your greatest influence takes place after you have been sifted and have survived.
- Suffering ratifies your ministry; if you are faithfully following God, it will find you.
- Learn from your history, because it is connected to your future.
- It’s not hard to lean on God when times are tough, but when everything is going well we are tempted to believe our own positive press.
- Gifts are given by God, but fully developing a gift takes a lot of hard work.
Every chapter contains engrossing stories of struggles encountered by the author and lessons learned, and additional content is contributed by Francis Chan and Larry Osborne. I found the book compelling and highly recommend it to church planters and anyone involved in church leadership.