Difficult situations act like crucibles – the container that holds all the heat and pressure that transforms what goes in into something far more valuable coming out.
Our natural, immediate temptation when put into a crucible situation is to escape. We want to jump out.
Muscles get bigger and stronger when they are first stressed, actually broken down. The repair process is how they grow.
If you pull the ore out before enough crucible-transforming time has passed, at best you have material that has to be reworked before it is transformed into desirable metal. Sometimes you have to start over entirely from raw materials.
I’ve watched many leaders struggle in a position and jump out, believing the struggle was not producing anything worthwhile. They didn’t learn what they needed to learn. They didn’t develop a needed level of toughness, or a new skill level to match more complex problems. They didn’t have their pride broken enough to be an authentic leader for others.
My observation is that in God’s leadership develop economy, if you leave a crucible before your time, then He arranges another one to finish the work that He started in you. We should be very grateful for this loving discipline!
We also see a succession of crucibles, sometimes even with situations we didn’t perceive as a crucible. Look back over your life and think about those transforming situations and times. How many of your easy teachers and professors do you remember by name, compared to the teachers and faculty who really pushed you and made you earn the grade? Consider how important they were in your development into the “you” you are today.
Understanding this also helps us be tender with others coming along the crucible path behind us. I remember a few times when college sophomores would tell me, “You can’t understand how hard my life is right now,” and I wanted to one-up them with the reality of my married, doctoral studies, new baby, sleep-deprived life.
I’ve spoken with many seasoned leaders. I often will ask, “What has been your favorite leadership role or position?” Very few say, “The one I’m in now!” Instead they tell me about some former position. I suspect this is because when we look back on the crucible of that position we don’t remember clearly how hard it was at the time – it certainly is easier than the one we’re in today!
Recognize that crucible situations are good things. Be grateful and patient. Endure. Don’t jump. If you do it’s likely that you’ll go through the crucible process again.