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Managing Life’s Trials

Weekly Impact is written for leaders by our former Executive Director,Garth Jestley, who has decades of experience in senior leadership roles in the financial services sector. Each week he will share insights on life, leadership and faith.

“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” ~Charles R. Swindoll

Over the years, there have been times when my life, both professional and personal, was going swimmingly. My company was enjoying good success as funds we managed performed well, triggering fresh inflows of money. Or, Mary and I were enjoying a halcyon period that was both fulfilling and refreshing.

At times like these, it is tempting (indeed natural) to conclude that the normal state of human affairs is favourable winds and smooth sailing. Thus, when the water gets choppy or a storm materializes out of left field, it can feel like a shock. Alternatively, we simply experience the seemingly never ending ups and downs of everyday living.

Regarding the latter, one of our daughters, her husband and two very young children, are currently living with us while their new house is being built. For Mary and me, it has been a wonderful blessing that we wouldn’t trade for anything. At the same time, we had forgotten just how busy having little ones around can be!

While life’s trials (defined for these purposes as unpleasant challenges) can sometimes seem like unnatural incursions, they are actually the norm. In fact, a number of recent personal trials were the catalyst for this blog post.

Here’s a thought experiment. Consider the preceding month and identify all the trials you encountered. They may be direct or indirect and range from minor to major. Some may be the direct consequence of our poor choices, some may be unrelated to our choices and some may be the result of both our choices and external factors. For me, that list has been quite long recently!

If trouble is inevitable, where do I look for peace?

If we accept that trials in our professional and personal lives are the norm rather than the exception, the opening assertion by Swindoll becomes highly relevant. Indeed, life is mostly about how we respond to adversity rather than adversity itself. As I am writing this post, I received an email from a friend who is involved in LeaderImpact. He has held senior leadership positions for years and has lots of higher education. The following excerpt is relevant.

“FYI, my role at [company], sadly, was eliminated week before last. Was more than a bit of a surprise…but these things happen, and I’m 100% in a great space. Our loving Father is so good, and always proves faithful, so I’m beyond excited for Him to open whichever doors He will (mind you, I’ve got a fair bit of knocking to do!!).”

The reason my friend is “in a great space” is that he is a committed follower of Jesus. In this respect, Jesus made the following promise when he announced his imminent arrest by the authorities, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

Where do you look for peace when the going gets rough?

Garth Jestley is a husband, father, grandfather, leader and business executive. Most importantly, he is a follower of Jesus Christ.