This week I am reading and reflecting on “The Dip” by Seth Godin. Whenever a person wants to accomplish anything worthwhile they will experience the “Dip”. This is the challenge after the initial excitement. There comes a time when it becomes difficult and we are tempted to give up. This separates the exceptional from the mediocre.
But there are times when we should give up. I was burning out at a large church a few years ago. Its not that the work was so heavy, but it was ill-defined. Godin encourages people to know when to quit and then do it quickly. I did neither; instead I wasted my energies in a place that was not a good fit. I was in a Cul-de-Sac position.
On the other hand, we can find a Dip that we are willing to invest everything for. What makes the difference between persevering and quitting? One statement Godin makes caught my attention, “It’s the story you tell yourself.” The thoughts of escape or quitting can be an avoidance of the cost of following Christ. The story of Jesus is the story of our lives. While Godin’s challenge could be used for very self-focused ends, he does pinpoint one key element for Christian leadership. We are called to a worthwhile but difficult profession. Instead of avoiding problems we can “lean into a problem; lean so far that you might just lean through it.” (p.52). We bear painful experiences as we share leadership with Christ. This is the call to persevere, which is replete in the New Testament.
The motivation to keep going is found in what predominates my thinking. The tasks of running an organization can actually impede the organization when allowed to distract us from our goal. Leadership requires focus and seeing the larger picture. I must ask “How is what I am doing right now furthering the mission of this church?” and also “How is what I am doing using the one thing I am called to do? Is this the exceptional or mediocre?”
The most poignant insight I gleaned from this book is this: When facing the Dip, “amplify the long-term benefits of not quitting. What is life like at the other end of the Dip?” We are called to look to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. Look to him, “because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross despising its shame.” (Hebrews 12:2) This puts everything in perspective. Jesus calls us to follow him. That involves the biggest Dip, the challenge of a life of faith and a calling to endure hardship knowing the reward is worth the cost.