Leadership Talk: Overcoming Disappointment
Having God’s favor as believers does not guarantee us a pain-free life. How can we overcome these difficulties and come out of our challenges victorious?
Kingdomcity founder and leader Mark Varughese has brought his church to greater heights year to year, yet he admits there are times when difficult circumstances arise. With all the risks Mark has taken along the way to see the church grow, things don’t always pan out the way he expects.
How do you handle disappointments and setbacks?
I try to see them in the light of eternity. If you drown in the moment or the temporary pain, you will be overwhelmed. But if you see it all in the light of eternity, these things are still painful and real, but they’re no longer all-consuming.
There’s a divine perspective, a God-reliance we can learn in these times. There’s an eternity on the side of this pain – an eternity of peace, love, and joy.
Everything else is temporary. I just don’t personalize my disappointment. It’s not who I am; it’s how I’m feeling, but it’s not who I am. Even if someone does something horrible to me, I just don’t wear it.
Can you share a practical example of how this principle has helped you in real life?
I remember going into a financial investment about sixteen years ago. I invested about AUD 50,000 into a deal at the advice of a trusted relative.
“Sometimes forgiveness is only easy in the light of eternity.”
I lost the whole investment. It was sitting so heavily on me. But then I started to look at the situation and say, “It’s done, it’s only money.” There had been resentment towards the relative who told me it was a good deal. But I realized I was wearing this offense longer than I should. In light of eternity, what does it matter? I can’t take the money with me anyway – I can make some adjustments.
Another example is in the area of relationships. There were times when people on our team betrayed me or did something wrong, even something sinister. I would forgive them, because I know you need to do this, but I would wear the offense longer than I needed to.
So how do I look at it now? When I look at the betrayal or mistake through the bigger picture of eternity – through God’s perspective – it’s really not a big deal. In terms of where I’m ultimately going to land, does it really matter?
Sometimes forgiveness is only easy in the light of eternity.
So how do you realign yourself to this awareness of eternity? Surely it’s not automatic.
For me, it’s worship. In that space, in that intimacy, in that proximity with God, it gives me perspective. Worship does not just make me feel good, but it’s actually through the interaction of worship that I come out changed.
How do you make good decisions while you’re going through discouragement? How do you keep from letting your feelings lead you in a wrong direction?
Prayer plays a key in making decisions. We are making that decision in the place of peace and meditation, without being caught in making a list of “pros and cons”. We involve God, that’s primary. Prayer removes me from the nearness of the situation and allows me to dialogue with God.
Sometimes I have peace on a decision that is counter-intuitive. But when I have that overwhelming sense of peace, I can move very fast.
Without peace I can be very indecisive. Small decisions tire me. I think I can move faster with big decisions than with small decisions because of the overpowering sense of peace that comes from God.
Also, the counsel of other people is vital. I always try to include my leaders, my board. I’ve got oversight, even from my own staff. Even when I don’t need permission, I often ask others for their perspective.
How do you deal with people who are very discouraging?
I have to be really honest. One of my pet peeves is negative people. They are the people I try, intentionally, to avoid.
“I just don’t personalize my disappointment. It’s not who I am; it’s how I’m feeling, but it’s not who I am. Even if someone does something horrible to me, I just don’t wear it.”
Some people in your life you have to remove; other things, you can’t just remove. For example, you can’t remove a negative parent or spouse, but you do need to just shake their negativity off. Sometimes you have to find a way to protect your heart, by focusing on God’s promises and eternity.
If it’s too late and someone has already said discouraging words over you, you have to hear from God. I come to God and say, “Weed my heart so that there is no residue of bitterness left over.”
I also remember that God did not make these people to be discouraged – it’s their perspective of life, but not who God made them to be.
I encourage myself in the Lord and then I’m not discouraged by the voices of others.