the shape of leadership

Your Opposition Is Your Opportunity

Stay focused, and keep moving forward

Kent Ingle on March 18, 2019

If you stay in leadership long enough, you’ll face opposition. Rise up high enough, and you will experience a level of resistance you didn’t even know was possible. They key is to stay focused and keep moving forward.

Paul reminds us of this in his letter to the Philippians. Imprisoned because of the opposition he faced, the apostle writes, “And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear” (Philippians 1:14).

Paul recognized that opposition is not a bad thing, as long as it doesn’t derail your focus on what God has called you to accomplish. I meet many leaders who complain constantly about opposition as if it were a badge of honor. I don’t think they even recognize they do this. And I get it.

Leading can be tough, and sometimes you just need to tell someone else about it. But keep your focus on what’s ahead. Otherwise, you risk getting sidetracked.

Break Through Without Breaking Down

When I find myself facing opposition, I take a step back and do these things:

Evaluate whether the goal should still be the goal. It’s OK to abandon a goal when you determine that the context has changed or new variables have been introduced.

Get feedback. Don’t try to figure out how many people like you or don’t like you. But do take the temperature of your team and determine whether you are all moving in one direction.

Reframe your opposition from something holding you back to a process that will eventually propel you forward.

Measure the gap. Understand the distance between your present reality and where you want to be. This is a great time to adjust as needed.

Reframe the opposition. Opposition is really a catalyst that leads to clarity of purpose, mission and conviction.

Whatever you’re facing right now, remember this: It’s not as bad as it seems, and it’s not as good as it looks. Waste nothing when it comes to leadership experiences. Use the seasons of opposition as opportunities to become stronger, more resolved, and more determined to see it through.

Paul goes on to tell the church at Philippi, “Whatever, happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved — and that by God” (Philippians 1:27-28).

Adapt, Pivot, But Keep Moving Forward

No one ever said being a leader would be easy. It is a privilege and a point of stewardship. Part of that responsibility comes with facing and enduring opposition. Some of that opposition comes as a result of our own decisions, and some comes from people being people.

Never forget it’s always the roughest right before a breakthrough. Whether you’re pushing a team to new levels of productivity, coaching an individual to peak performance, or leading an organization through massive change, your opposition will flare up just before something amazing happens.

My experience tells me that just about the time I’m ready to give in and give up is the time I need to press in and press forward.

Reframe your opposition — whether it’s people, circumstances or a mindset — from something holding you back to a process that will eventually propel you forward. Hold on, remembering that God still has you and your ministry in His hands, and He will not abandon you. The best is yet to come!


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