Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

To Suffer Patiently

Written by: on October 12, 2022

Endurance. To suffer patiently. While it is a theme throughout this weeks’ reading, it also happens to be the word I chose for this year towards the end of 2021. Being just over halfway through a doctoral program, having a 1.5-year-old that weeks’ prior was in the PICU for respiratory failure, being pregnant with a miracle baby girl, knowing that my work would be experiencing a lot of change in the coming months, and sitting with the reality of a third recurrence of cancer, I knew I was looking straight into a challenging year ahead. I also knew I wanted to steward the hard with the same intentionality that I steward the blessing. The word endurance seemed fitting. Now being nearly at the end of 2022, I can say the word has fit. Some said it was a negative word, but throughout scripture endurance is often paired with the word hope. Bolsinger writes:

“When the Scriptures speak of resilience, the words they most often use are endurance and perseverance. The Greek word transliterated hypomone is used repeatedly to entreat the saints to persevere in faith and faithfulness amid the trials of this world.”[1]

Todd Bolsinger, author of Tempered Resilience is an academic and executive coach focusing on transformational leadership. Bolsinger uses the metaphor of a blacksmith as he turns his attention towards the necessity of the fire for lasting formation to take place. In short, he outlines six phases of becoming a tempered leader and five qualities of what he considers a grounded or resilient leader. Utilizing the visual of the blacksmith throughout, Bolsinger draws on the importance of the fire, the hammering, and the other stresses to produce resilience which leads towards temperance. Drawing heavily from Freidman’s work on self-differentiation, Bolsinger continually points back to the failure of nerve and heart which can easily interrupt the journey towards resiliency.

Personally, I appreciated the reading in the simple connections I have to it: geographically I’m close to Bolsinger, the attention given to the academy provides more direct application to my work, and his utilizing Fuller Theological Seminary in many of his examples provides familiarity as I am well acquainted with the institution. While I appreciate the practical nature of his writing, I also found myself frustrated with the fluidity of the process and qualities he was describing. If I were to talk with him, I’d want to drill down on how leaders live and move through the fire towards greater resiliency for themselves and those they are leading without providing a continual feeling of missional drift. Is the missional target moving in this process or does it merely get greater definition through the clarity of the heat? While there is a function in his cycle dedicated to periods of rest and release of leadership responsibilities, how does the leader proactively mitigate burnout in those they lead?

I know that I have been in a season of high heat. And I also know in the coming months with my work it is going to get hotter. While I previously would have shied away from getting burned, I now find myself reframing certain situations, giving me somewhat of an anticipation of expectance for how the Lord is going to shape me even more as I step closer to the flame. I continually remind myself that endurance is patiently suffering – not quickly suffering, not patiently waiting. The suffering can always be worse, but I need to give myself permission to acknowledge just how hard this season has been. I have done my best to walk this season in faith and faithfulness. My exhaustion at every level runs deep right now, but I also know that it is in this place, when I simply cannot do any more in my own strength, that the Lord lovingly steps in, provides a drink of water (maybe even a snack and nap like he did with Elijah), and stands right next to me in the fire. May I not quickly revert to asking for the heat to be lessened, but instead lean in and ask for the transformation to take shape.

[1] Bolsinger, 75.

About the Author

Kayli Hillebrand

Associate Dean of International and Experiential Education

5 responses to “To Suffer Patiently”

  1. mm Troy Rappold says:

    Ms. Kayli: Bolsinger does draw heavily upon Friedman, but instead of it feeling like it was a re-hash, he has his own take on of the dynamics of leadership. You certainly know about resilience, was there anything in this book that did NOT ring true?

  2. mm Roy Gruber says:

    Kayli, thanks for giving us such a personal view of tempering through your life’s lens. To hear you speak on Zoom or read your blogs, one would think you are sailing along, so thanks for the vulnerability in this post. As I’ve mentioned in the past, your ability to continue through all that you face stands as an example and motivator to all in this cohort. What things have kept you going with this program in light of your challenges? More specifically, was there something within yourself or from those around you that proved to be a big support?

  3. mm Eric Basye says:

    Well Kayli, if anyone can speak to resilience and endurance, it is you! I think you should write a book when it is all said and done, and you you dial in the frustration you found with Bolsinger regarding is fluidity. Speaking to that, what would be your highlight points you would want to communicate?

  4. mm Denise Johnson says:

    You are an inspiration in how you have managed to keep pressing on through everything. I am curious what has been the foundational stones that have kept you going? How might these be connected to Bolsinger’s concepts?

  5. mm Nicole Richardson says:

    Kayli, your honesty and vulnerability is so beautiful and I am so humbled to know you offer us this part of you. As I was reading your blog, I thought about the truth of Isaiah 43:1-7 as seen in your journey. What are concrete (I know you appreciate concrete :)) ways you can use your journey to help nurture resiliency in your students?

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