But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. 2 Corinthians 2:14.
As I watched the pre-show to the Opening Ceremonies for the 2016 Olympics, I was surprised to note that an inordinate amount of time seemed to be spent on highlighting the challenges being faced in putting the Rio games together – political unrest, doping allegations, environmental contamination, and the constant threat of the mosquito-transmitted Zika virus.
With these Olympic-sized challenges, it hardly seemed to be a time for optimism, let alone celebration. Yet, for those elite athletes who had sacrificed, trained, competed and been selected for this, the greatest of all sports festivals, these life-threatening trials appeared to be no match.
As I carefully observed participants from various countries in the opening procession, I did not see faces filled with pessimism, fear, despair or resentment. In spite of the abundant challenges that they had and would encounter, or maybe even because of them, the athletes proudly marched into the stadium with smiles and laughter, waving their hands enthusiastically with triumphant cheers. In those magical moments, the opportunity to display their national allegiance and set the tone for this event to the watching world greatly eclipsed the risks that they were currently facing. In my mind, they were already winners!
As leaders who are Christ-followers, we are told that we too will be constantly faced with a myriad of Olympic-size trials (John 16:33). It is easy in those times to succumb to pessimism, fear, despair or resentment. Yet, we have the opportunity to boldly represent our Heavenly allegiance to the watching world. Yes, the challenges and the risks are real, and may feel life-threatening, but we have not been left without assistance. In 2 Corinthians 2:14 we are assured that, through Christ, we will always have the grace, strength and power to endure and to triumph through each and every trial that we face. We have every reason to smile, laugh and wave our hands with victorious
cheers as we celebrate who we are and Whose we are, especially during our trials. In times of adversity, let’s remember that, like Olympic competitors, we as leaders are being closely observed as we set the tone for our organizations, congregations, colleagues and communities.
Written by Keturah Harris-Leonforde