In my last post, I talked about the valley that follows our mountain-top experiences. The valley is valuable to us in our walk with God. And not just valuable, essential. If your entire life was made up of mountain-tops, they wouldn’t be mountain-tops; they would be one, long plateau.
We learn our greatest lessons in the valley. A number of years ago, the Center for Creative Leadership did a study of CEOs leading Fortune 100 companies. They asked them, “•What experiences have you had that taught you something you use today as a leader?” The results were interesting.
When they analyzed all the experiences, they found that they could be grouped into four types: Hardships, Challenging Assignments, Relationship Events and Other Events.
- Hardships involved demotions, terminations, difficult employee problems, personal traumas, failures, and serious negative feedback. In other words, valley experiences that ended badly.
- Challenging Assignments involved turn-around jobs, start-up operations, and huge increases in scope and scale. In other words, valley experiences that ended with success.
- Relationship Events involved contact with mentors, role-models, coaches and other influential people.
- Other Events involved early job experiences, personal events, parenting and other miscellaneous experiences.
The majority (61%) of the useful leadership lessons these CEO’s had learned in their lives came from difficult experiences. Some turned out well and others didn’t, but both made lasting impressions on the CEO’s and taught them important things that they were still using at the time of the survey.
But that’s just a business example. Think about your life and where the most useful lessons have come from, and you will probably find that they weren’t learned on top of the mountain; they were learned in the valleys of your life.
Or consider the heroes of Scripture.
- Abraham learned to wait on the Lord during the 25 years between God’s promise to make him the father of a nation and the birth of Isaac.
- Joseph learned how to administrate during his years as a slave and in prison.
- David learned how to lead as he led his mighty men through the wilderness with King Saul at their heals.
- Daniel learned to trust in God in a foreign land while he served several pagan kings.
- Peter learned to submit to God’s plan and timing only after he failed to live up to his boasts and denied his Lord three times.
These heroes became heroes because God used the difficult times in their lives to mold and shape them. He uses our difficult times in the same way. There’s value in the valley.