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Ministry Resilience By Lee Ellis


Ministry Resilience –  3 Ways to Bounce Back

In life and ministry,  resilience is essential because it is  inevitable to go through tough times that seem impossible. Pushing through a challenge with unrelenting determination. Simply not giving up when you want to call it quits. Doing things that you don’t feel like doing in order to achieve your goal.

What personally comes to mind when you think about resilience? What’s your frame of reference?

POW Resilience

Resilience was a matter of life and death for the Vietnam POWs. For our families back home, resilience was the only way they could have a life.

There were numerous reasons we POWs were able to resist, endure torture, and bounce back. First of all, we were a competitive and optimistic group. But much of what enabled us to hang in there for 5, 6, 7, or 8 years related to our sense of duty. Duty, the indispensable attribute taught in virtually every leadership training program, is built on a foundation of faithfulness, character, responsibility, and commitment. We were resilient because we were faithfully committed to each other and to our country.

My parents, Molene and Leon, and my brother, Robert, and his wife, Pat, took it as their duty and act of resilience to support me and other POW/MIAs. They made speeches, wrote letters, gave interviews, and worked unceasingly, doing everything possible to engage our community and outlying region in our cause.

The Fuel of Resilience at Work

Resilience empowered by duty and belief is vital to all organizational success.

It takes many different forms in response to various needs. In the face of an economic slump or competitive challenge, a ministry leader may have to struggle tenaciously for support, and even survival. An organizational layoff may force the remaining staff to persevere under a heavier workload. A manager with an unprofessional boss may have to shield other staff from irrational decisions and hostile behaviors, while still remaining loyal.

One COO with whom I worked had to navigate through a professional minefield. She wanted to remain completely loyal to her boss, but she found herself regularly challenging him about questionable decisions that were undermining the foundation of the organization and draining energy from the leadership team. Eventually, however, the President’s poor judgment crossed the line in several areas, resulting in his removal.

Because this COO had exhibited such a strong sense of duty and loyalty throughout this period, the organization continued to perform at a high level during a very stressful time. As is often the case, the resilience of this one person was crucial to the resilience of the organization.

3 Insights About Resilience

What are the critical points of resilience that are needed during challenging times to emerge with victory?


  1. Life is a battle, and we all get knocked down. The challenge is to stay in the battle and fight to get back on your feet. It’s hard to defeat someone who won’t quit.


  1. You must believe in yourself. There are cycles and seasons, and we all go through ups and downs. You must believe that you can work through the challenges that come your way.


  1. You can’t fight this battle alone. POWs learned that isolation is a powerful weapon of the enemy. Have people around you who will encourage you—speaking truth into your life about who you are and how valuable you are.

Preparing for Resilience

One key is to plan before resilience is needed! Here’s a list to review and consider which of these areas need work for you or your leadership team –


– Roots                                     – Forgiveness

– Values                                    – Deepest Desires

– Faith                                      – Vision for the Future

– Role Models                           – Past Experiences

– Determination                        – Others

– Courage                                 – Gratitude


My free infographic goes deeper on each item in this list. (link to infographic – ) If you gain personal insight on any of these items, you’ll be more resilient when facing the next challenge.

You Must Bounce Back

Authentic leaders know that life is difficult. They expect to get knocked down, and they have the proper attitude and outlook to persevere. You have a choice about how you will respond to difficulties. Confront the brutal realities of your situation, but never give up hope. Develop your plan, connect with your support team, and bounce back.


Lee Ellis is the president of Leadership Freedom® LLC, a leadership and team development consulting and coaching company. Lee Ellis consults with Fortune 500 senior executives in the areas of hiring, team building, human performance, and succession planning. His media appearances include interviews on CNN, CBS This Morning, C-SPAN, ABC World News, and Fox News Channel. A retired Air Force Colonel, his latest award-winning book about his Vietnam POW experience is entitled Leading with Honor: Lessons for the Hanoi Hilton 

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