“Whatever Doesn’t Kill You…”



I’ve reached the tipping point with some trite leadership sayings. These saying aren’t just played out, in some contexts they’re dangerous.

Let’s abandon them. Let’s abandon them now. Here’s the first one:

“Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

God will use tough times to mature our faith (James 1:2-3). You can make a biblical argument God uses difficult times to prepare us to serve others (2 Corinthians 1:3-7). You can’t make a biblical argument that what we experience will always make us stronger.

I have friends and family who are veterans of the armed forces. As a pastor, I served both active duty and retired servicemen and women. I know first-hand their character, their courage and their commitment. Due to serving as their pastor, in some cases I know more than you could imagine.

Know this. Sometimes what doesn’t kill you haunts you the rest of your life. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is real. It is painfully real. Many will struggle to manage PTSD every day until the Lord calls them home.

The trite saying doesn’t hold true for clergy, either. I know former pastors who no longer attend a church. It’s not because they’ve lost faith in God, although they’ve had their share of struggles with the Lord. It’s not because they experience moral failure and were moved from office.

They don’t participate because they were so emotionally battered while serving congregations they can’t bring themselves to step into a church. Or it’s because they sacrificed everything starting a new church. When the church plant failed, they crashed and burned as well.

In athletics, there is a difference between being hurt and injured. If you’re hurt, you can keep playing. If you’re injured, you need to stop competing and heal.

Leaders who say, “Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” are like coaches who demand injured athletes play. It only makes the injury worse. And risks making the injuries permanent.

I’ve contemplated penning this post for two years. I kept putting it off because I’m passionate about risk-taking and achievement. This post could sound like I think we should play it safe in life. In many ways, it’s the risks that make life worth living.

I’m convinced we need to be open and honest when we invite people to take risks with us. If there truly is a risk they could be permanently damaged, we need to make this known in no uncertain terms. Our partners in ventures need to know, “What doesn’t kill you could do irreparable harm.”

Sure, such an introduction might cost us a few partners. But such realistic expectations might save the team when the storms hit.

I’ll take aim at another trite leadership saying next Tuesday. Until then, what leadership saying do you want to see abandoned? Leave your thoughts in the comments or shoot me an email.

6 thoughts on ““Whatever Doesn’t Kill You…”

  1. Or as a friend of mine says, Whatever doesn’t kill you can mess you up real bad.” Self care is an important part of the mission.


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