We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair, persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9

Have you ever felt like Paul in this passage?

Disappointments, obstacles, failures, conflicts, struggles with sin… The actual life of being hard pressed is tough. What helped Paul press on so that we might be blessed by his example many centuries later? What helps us press on?A study of factors which contribute to attrition and resilience of field workers involved interviewing over forty experienced field workers. Crucial in a series, statements were captured and then sent back to those interviewed, asking them to rank one another’s statements based on their experience. Here are the results.

What contributes to resilience?

  • Resilient field workers grow in self-awareness.  They are honest about their strengths and weaknesses, and actively engage in self-care (spiritually, emotionally, relationally, mentally and physically).
  • Resilient field workers are aware of God being present, walking with them, transforming them through trials.
  • Resilient field workers learn to root more and more of their identity in Christ.
  • Resilient field workers have a deep conviction that their primary calling is to their relationship with Jesus.  Everything else is secondary.
  • Resilient field workers welcome mentoring.  They allow peers and mentors to point out their character weaknesses.
  • Resilient field workers learn to be flexible, adapting to face challenges and adversity.
  • Resilient field workers gain skills to facilitate a team in which there is mutual respect of one another’s gifts and contributions.
  • Resilient field workers have a deep desire to participate in the new culture. They are motivated to deepen language fluency and build relationships in the host community.
  • Resilient field workers grow in humility, wanting to serve and learn from others. They develop courage to face the reality of their situation without resorting to denial or self-deception.

Do some of these factors resonate with you? This is a good conversation topic to discuss with your family and co-workers. Which areas are you already strong in? Which would you like to develop more of?

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children . . . God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 4:7-14 (NIV)

Like Paul, we carry a treasure in jars of clay, easily broken. Through the breaking process, God reveals His love and power. These bits of God shining through attract Muslims to Jesus. We carry the “death of Jesus” around with us so the life in Jesus can be revealed to a world thirsty for spiritual reality and wholeness.



PATRICK LAI and his family have worked in SE Asia for over 37 years. His experience in doing business with Jesus has brought him to understand the meaning of work and worship in the marketplace. He started 14 businesses in four countries, six of which are still operating. Patrick and his wife, May, mentor and coach businesspeople working where there are few or no Christians. Check out Patrick’s latest book, Workship, now available in paperback and e-book.

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