The following are excerpts from a letter I recently wrote to my daughter in college.
“I was reading my Bible this morning and was beginning to read 2 Thessalonians, when I had to pause after reading the fourth verse. Paul was “boasting” about the perseverance of the Christians and how they we holding on to the faith in the midst of great trial and persecution. They were holding on to what they knew was true – that Jesus Christ was the Savior – but were suffering for it as a result. In some ways, you could say they were suffering as a result of what they believe, but not for anything they did. Despite great difficulty, the early Christians were holding on to what they knew was true despite very difficult circumstances. Many times, they were questioning, “Why?” or “Why is this happening to me?” or “This seems so unfair! I don’t remember signing up for this!” But they were holding on – and Paul was commending them for it.
Right now, you are enduring some very difficult challenges. And I believe you are responding well, holding on, and keeping a great attitude – even though there are certainly times you want to throw in the towel. The Apostle Paul would be proud of you and would “boast” about your perseverance amidst great difficulty – and I would too.
From my experience, I have been in enough difficult meetings, worked with enough difficult people, worked under enough difficult bosses to offer this “golden nugget of amazing wisdom” – people aren’t perfect. They have been placed in a position of authority for a reason, and perception is 90% of reality. Sometimes the words, actions and judgments of people do not make any sense whatsoever. However, we do honor those whom God has placed in authority over us. Whether coaches, professors or administrators, we don’t necessarily agree with their decisions, but honor them by choosing how we are going to respond. Our attitudes and decisions on how we are going to respond communicates to those in authority our commitment and desire. Our response dictates a person’s perception about us.
I have learned the hard way many times over that how we respond to challenging circumstances is what sets you apart in providing opportunities to have positive things happen. Great decisions builds momentum and lays groundwork for future success.”