We all know the feeling. You’re working on an important project, or you have a new idea you’re trying to make a reality, and instead of making progress you keep coming against obstacles. Maybe it’s a boss who constantly has problems with your work, a budget constraint, or simple external barriers that you never expected. Whatever the scenario, it can leave you feeling depleted, as if your efforts don’t matter. With feelings of frustration you respond out of anger, using aggression to bulldoze your way forward. Doing your best to get what you want.
But what if we responded differently? What if we took a different approach when facing obstacles, one that reflects the character of God and leads to a much better result?
Here are six biblical responses when facing obstacles at work.
- Be Still: Gosh, this is so rarely my first response in frustrating situations. The easiest reaction is usually one of emotion that happens in the moment. God has a different way. Instead of running to complain or vent with a co-worker, he asks us to still ourselves in his presence. When we’re obedient in that practice we’re reminded of his power and control over the situation. It releases us of the burden to carry it all on our own, and provides space for God’s truth and wisdom to shine through. “He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’” Psalm 46:10
- Pray and Seek Guidance: We can’t stop at simply being still, we have to actually ask God for his perspective. I am confident that he will be faithful to bring light to the frustration and illuminate the next step when he’s asked. We often think that God isn’t helping us in our tough situations, but in reality we’re not obedient to ask and then listen for a response. So just stop and pray. Be honest with God about what you’re facing and feeling, ask for his help, and then make note of any possible solutions that come to mind. “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5
- Seek Counsel: Apart from prayer, another important way God speaks to us is through other people. Sometimes the shift in perspective we need can come directly from a friend or mentor we trust. We’re not asked to do this life alone, so take advantage of the community God has graciously given you. Make sure you connect with someone who has an active relationship with the Lord and will advise you to take steps that reflect your faith and values. “The way of the fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.” Proverbs 12:15
- Respond with Humility: For many of us, humility is against our nature. We believe our idea is the right one after all. Humbling ourselves to truly listen to negative feedback can seem counter-intuitive. However, when we demonstrate humility we show others that we value their feedback, and that our ultimate goal is to reach the best solution, even if it’s not our preferred one. Acting with humility also means that we recognize our own constraints, which always leads to a better solution. “Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.” 1 Peter 3:8
- Choose Joy and Peace: It’s so easy to let the negative effects of obstacles overcome your thinking. We like to let ourselves wallow in the disappointment or overwhelm. However, God’s way is a different way. He asks us to choose joy and peace when facing difficulty, trusting him completely with the outcome. A peaceful and joy-filled mind allows you think clearly and creatively when problem solving. “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22
- Be Brave: In the end you have to act, you have to move forward and face the obstacle. Even if you’ve received clear direction from God, taking a step down his path might not feel comfortable or easy. You have to choose to be brave. Step out onto the water and watch him guide you through the waves. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear or timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7
Ultimately, facing obstacles with a biblical perspective means you just trust God with the outcome. You recognize that doing things his way, while uncomfortable, is the only way to truly overcome an obstacle and find the best solution.
How have you seen God work in the middle of obstacles you’ve faced at work?