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Leaders Who Persevere By Larry Gadbaugh

Leaders Persevere

Biblical Perspectives on Perseverance

Leadership requires perseverance through losses. Sacrifice is the cost of leadership. But what kind of a leader can outlast the threats from temptations, tests, and trials that he or she encounters? What is the difference between a person who perseveres with faithfulness and those who cannot continue?

Challenging Times

We are all familiar with numerous leaders of churches and other ministries who have reported these recent years have been some of the most difficult, divisive, and discouraging in their careers. Various studies and articles have reflected on the factors leading to resignations, early retirements, dismissals, and disqualifications.

As Christian leaders called to serve the Lord, his people, and our communities, how can we better persevere in fulfilling the stewardship of those we serve?

The Struggle

After serving over 45 years with leadership responsibilities, I have a measure of understanding of the struggle to continue in ministry. I remember at least three times in my early ministry that I attempted to resign from my position of discouragement and feelings of inadequacy. By God’s grace, my elders disagreed and provided wisdom and encouragement instead of allowing me (in those cases) to escape the pressures.

Without denying there are times and circumstances in which God leads a leader to resign from a given post, I’m reflecting on the extraordinary perspective of the Apostle Paul in response to the tests and trials through which he faithfully endured. For this article, I want to reflect on one key element of his mindset that I propose was essential in his longevity and his fruitfulness.


I spent the last eight months reading and studying the Book of Acts. Paul’s farewell address to the Ephesian elders captures a powerful declaration of his perspective. Paul had already paid the price of significant losses in ministry, and he was prepared to suffer even more – to the point of martyrdom.

And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me.  But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.

Acts 20:22-24


Paul’s devoted endurance was rooted in his mindset of facing every loss, setback, opposition, threat, attack, test, and trial as an occasion “to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” Every test, every trial – indeed, literal trials before his countrymen and before the Roman magistrates – he took the opportunity to advance the mission his Master had called him to fulfill.


A leader who perseveres adopts a mindset that views every test and trial as an opportunity to fulfill the stewardship of Christ’s calling.

This mindset is pervasive in Paul’s epistles. Here is just one example.

I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard[ and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.  Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.

Phil 1:12-18


As Christ’s stewards of our particular calling, mission, and vision he has entrusted to us, may we also be strengthened by Paul’s example, adopting his mindset that every test and trial we encounter in our leadership will become an occasion to advance and fulfill his cause.


Larry Gadbaugh serves as the Executive Director of Guidelight. He is the interim Executive Director of the Oregon Pregnancy Center Association. He and Diane have been married for 46 years. They have five adult children and three grandchildren.

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