Two things define you: Your patience when you have nothing and your attitude when you have everything. – Unknown
Opposition is to opportunity as wind is to a kite. You will realize that most things that arrive at high altitude in life do so against the opposing force of opposition. An airplane pilot knows that planes do not fly with the wind but against the wind. It is as a result of the opposing wind that airplanes fly high deep in the sky. Therefore, any person in life who wishes to accomplish great things in life must learn to effectively deal with these two realities: opportunity and opposition. The best way to look at it is to see your problems or oppositions as an opportunity to spur you on to better opportunities. The other way to go about this is not to worry about fixing problems since they are meant to fix us. Our challenges are always a means to an end and not the opposite.
Why is it that every great person has a story of how their mess gave them their message, and how their scar became the impetus that made them stars? Indeed problems are meant to fix us at the end of the day!
We live in a world where survival is contingent on attitude. The stronger the oppositions the more effective and relevant you will become. It is seldom possible to thrive through life without opposition. Look around you, the world itself is in abject struggle, and we are only able to survive the common heat of recession by our patience and attitude.
Some weeks ago I preached a sermon on “Opportunity and Opposition” from 1 Corinthians 16: 5-9 and would want to share some of the things I learnt about opportunity and opposition. Here is the text,
“Now I will come to you when I pass through Macedonia (for I am passing through Macedonia). And it may be that I will remain, or even spend the winter with you, that you may send me on my journey, wherever I go. For I do not wish to see you now on the way; but I hope to stay a while with you, if the Lord permits. But I will tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost. For a great and effective door has opened to me, and [there are] many adversaries.” (NKJV)
They are unexpectedly scheduled
We don’t plan for opportunities and neither do we plan for opposition or problems. They come up abruptly. In the thick of our problems, we may never end up doing what we intended to do because God wants us to do better things. This means thatGod’s plan can overrule our plans. From 1 Corinthians 16:5-9, we see Paul speaking in submission to God’s will. He does not speak in absolute. He uses words like “may be”, “I hope to”, “if the Lord permits” to qualify his submission to God’s overruling will. Paul left rule in his plans for the overruling of the Holy Spirit. When it comes to the decisions we must take as leaders, God has the veto power to approve or trash our plans. Our attitude therefore should be like Jesus when He was about to be crucified, saying “Not my will, but your will be done”. The second life lesson to learn here is that our decisions may not always be in the will of God. Notice, as spiritual as Paul was God’s plan for his life at this time was not in congruence with his plans. God’s plan for Paul was for him to have a time of ministry in Ephesus while Paul’s plan was to go to Jerusalem to deliver the offering he collected from the churches in Galatia. Before we make plans for our lives we need to ask “what the will of God is”. Many are the plans in the heart of a man but it is only the Lord’s will that will prevail. It is important to know God’s desire as a leader in order to effectively move people on to God’s agenda. In any case, our decisions may not always be in the will of God. But like Paul, we must learn to submit to His changes and permit Him to adjust things for us, if necessary.
They are mutually inclusive
The challenges we face as leaders and the breakthroughs our challenges produce are equally yoked. Problems and progress go together. According to Paul, on one hand he had a great door of opportunity and on the other hand he was faced with many adversaries (oppositions). There is no opportunity without opposition. In fact, there is no such thing as authentic leadership without opposition. According to G. Campbell Morgan, “If you don’t face opposition where you serve then you are serving at the wrong place”. There is something about leadership that causes haters to push back at your good work. That you are facing opposition as a leader does not necessarily mean that you are not in the will of God. Remember the story of Nehemiah in the Bible? He was busy doing the will of God, rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. Despite Nehemiah’s leadership, Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite heard about this and were very much disturbed and fought against Nehemiah. How do you respond when people say mean things against your leadership? How do you respond when haters say hateful things against you? Do you demonstrate Christian virtue like Jesus told you to do in Matt. 5:44: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you”. Your opposition does not necessarily hinder your opportunity. Before an opposition, there is already an opportunity – simply find it and make it work for you. The text in 1 Corinthians says the door is already open. That problem is too late. The solutions has been made before the problem was there. Don’t come down to their level, you bring them up to the life of Jesus Christ. At every point of contempt, God expects godly leaders to witness for him and represent Him while they can.
They are exponentially related
There is a popular saying that, “With new levels come new devils”. In other words, the bigger your success, the bigger your problems. Paul in our text quantifies his opportunity and his opposition. On one hand I have a great opportunity and on the other hand I have many adversities. Suggesting that: the greater your opportunity, the greater your opposition. Do not give up as a leader because of your seemingly impossible-to-please followers. The fact that you are facing opposition is an indicator that that could be your best moment as a leader. If you are faced with great opportunity you should expect great opposition. A life that receives little or no attack from people is a life that does little for people. If you do not want any problem in life simply live little, think little and die little. But if you must live a life that must count, never you forget that the greater your assignment, the greater your attack will be.
They are providentially arranged
In whatever situation we find ourselves, don’t forget that God is in charge of the closing and opening of doors in our lives. Your circumstances are divinely arranged to nurture a better you. There are some doors God may not allow us to pass through because the experience may harm us. Better go through the doors God has opened for your life, and allow God to close the doors he wishes to close in your life. Aren’t you glad that God didn’t allow you to do some things in past? And since our life’s activities are providentially arranged, it means that our movement into our next level is determined by what we do with our present level. What are you doing with what you have now? How are you carrying yourself now you have nothing? Do you invalidate yourself with guilt and diffidence or do you put a game face of confidence and fight your battles? Indeed what you do now matters! If you know who you are, and understands that God is in charge of your life, then you ought to relax in the wings of time and wait on Him in confidence, knowing that all things works together for good to them that love God.
They are immediately faced
We are too hesitant on things God has called us to do. Never wait on anybody to move into the doors God has opened for you. In the text we read, Paul understands that all opened doors will eventually close, if he hesitates to act. I assume that in Paul’s mind this was his pondering: “Before this opportunity to preach the gospel closes, I’ve got to go through this door!” This should likewise be our resolve. We must not linger to go through any door life has opened for us. Procrastination is the thief of success. Do not live a life of trying to do, and dying with having nothing done. Opportunities come but once. While your blood is still warm and young, go through that door. Don’t be afraid, live the life God has destined for you and never try to alter that problem because it is meant to bring you to your place of dominion.