• Jamie McClanahan

2021: A Year of Resilience


The coming year will be a true test for our community of faith. As one of your pastors, I am convinced the word of the year must be "resilience". In his book, The Resilient Pastor: Ten Principles for Developing Pastoral Resilience, Mark A. Searby shares the biblical perspective on this word resilience. He writes, "The biblical term for resilience is 'perseverance' or 'patient endurance.' The active sense refers to 'steady persistence in well-doing .' In the passive sense, it is 'patient endurance under difficulty.' [1] Webster defines resilience as “the ability to withstand hardship or adversity especially: the ability to sustain a prolonged stressful effort or activity〈a marathon runner’s endurance.” [2] Resilience, as applied to church leadership, is essential. Martin Manser combines leadership and resilience and defines it as "The ability to persevere in a task or calling. The Christian is called to endure in the face of trial or opposition, and his endurance brings spiritual rewards." [3] This quality of resilience emerges in Old and New Testament people time and again. These are men and women who did not give up in the face of fierce resistance and stubborn oppression. Defining the word is not so hard, but applying it personally and regularly to one's life can be difficult and complicated.

The most excellent example of resilience in the Word of God is Jesus Christ. He perfectly endured life and death for our sake. If we are to persevere in the coming days, we will do well to consider his example as laid out for us in the gospels. There are at least two ways we can maintain resilience as believers during these trying times.

One of the primary ways to maintain resilience is to keep our eyes on Jesus. In Hebrews 12:1-2, it says, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." As drawn from the context of chapter 11, the meaning of this passage indicates that it is possible to live individual faithful lives for Christ while living in a faith community with others. The Scriptures say that we are not alone but are surrounded by a great cloud of resilient witnesses that had gone on before us and finished the race. These, like us, were successful because of their daily focus on the person and work of Jesus, the author and finisher of their faith. They recognized that Jesus faced sorrow with joy and persecution with promise. Furthermore, they understood that to endure meant to finish the race, which results in reward and rest.

Another way to maintain resilience is to keep the eyes of our heart on those who have kept their eyes on Jesus in church history. At the turn of the 16th century, an obscure Anabaptist Reformer was a man of resilience. His name was Baltasar Hubmeier (1480-1528). He was a German Roman Catholic who converted to Protestantism. He was an educated man who was the only of the Anabaptists to have a doctorate from the University of Friedberg in 1512. [4]In 1525 he was arrested for his preaching on believers baptism when it was forbidden to do so by the Roman Catholic Church. He was released from prison ashamed and went to Nikolsburg in Moravia to repent and experience a personal revival that led to city-wide revival. In this short time, thousands responded to the gospel and were baptized. He also penned many books in that short period. He is most known for "On Heretics and Those Who Burn Them." This work would be a foreshadowing of things to come for him personally. In 1527 he was re-arrested and taken to Vienna, where again he was required to recant. [5]. However, this time he did not recant and was burned at the stake in Vienna for his beliefs on March 10, 1528. A few days later, on March 13, his wife of two years, with a stone tied around her neck, was thrown into the Danube and drowned. [6]

[1] Mark A. Searby, The Resilient Pastor: Ten Principles for Developing Pastoral Resilience (Eugene: Resource Publication, 2015), 10. [2] nc Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003). [3] Martin H. Manser, Dictionary of Bible Themes: The Accessible and Comprehensive Tool for Topical Studies (London: Martin Manser, 2009). [4] Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, Church History 694, History of Baptist Notes. Lecture 6, Pg. 4. [5] R. Gouldbourne, “Hubmaier, Balthasar (1481–1528),” ed. Martin Davie et al., New Dictionary of Theology: Historical and Systematic (London; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press; InterVarsity Press, 2016), 428. [6] Nathan P. Feldmeth, Pocket Dictionary of Church History: Over 300 Terms Clearly and Concisely Defined, The IVP Pocket Reference Series (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2008), 75–76.

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