To the level that God will use you is the level at which He must break you.” – Ike Reighard

Many leadership blogs give the impression that the writer never makes mistakes, never fails, never comes up short, and basically has all the answers.  If that is the type of blog you are looking for, then you will be disappointed with this site because I have made more mistakes than I care to comment on.

This past weekend I had to relive one of the most difficult times of my life.  I was asked to teach a group of approximately 75 adults the subject of brokenness.  Brokenness is something all Christian leaders know well.  God uses brokenness to humble us, remind us of Who is in control, and mold and shape us into the image of Jesus.  As my pastor Crawford Loritts says, “Godly leaders lead with a limp.”

As I prepared my lesson from Genesis 32:22-32, the passage where Jacob wrestles with God, I discovered a 15 truths about brokenness leaders go through.  Here is the progression as found in the text.

  1. Brokenness is conceived in pain, fear, and/or bad decisions (Gen 27:41, 32:1-21) – Jacob feared meeting his estranged brother Esau the next day who he felt wished to kill him.
  2. You will be forced to being alone with God (v. 24) – “Jacob was left alone”.  During times of brokenness, God wants no distractions or interruptions as He deals with us.
  3. The struggle is real (v.24) – “a Man”.  Jacob fought a real man.  The issues we deal with during our times of brokenness are not figurative.  They are very, very real.
  4. The struggle is intense (v. 24) – “wrestled”.  Jacob’s conflict was not a mild misunderstanding.  It was a wrestling match.
  5. The struggle is prolonged (v.24) – “until the breaking of day.”  Does the struggle you are facing seem unending?  Jacob’s wrestling was not a short fight.  It lasted all night.  Think about a physical confrontation that goes on for hours.  It is exhausting.
  6. The struggle is about a greater purpose.  Jacob was involved in a literal wrestling match with God, and a figurative one with greater consequences.  This is also true with the struggles we face.
  7. Jesus sees our struggle (v.25).  – “He saw”.  We can take comfort knowing Jesus cares deeply for us and knows the pain we are facing.
  8. We reach a point of feeling we are out of options and hope is lost (v.25).  “he prevailed not”.  During times of brokenness, we will all reach a point when our skills, competencies, financial resources, and connections are no longer sufficient.  It is then we are forced to turn to God.
  9. Jesus breaks us in all the RIGHT places (v.25) – “he touched the hollow of his thigh and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint”.  All Christian leaders will experience brokenness.  Either the world will break us or God will.  It is inescapable.  The difference is when the world breaks you, they discard you.  When God breaks you, He puts you back together better than you were before and for greater purposes.
  10. All storms pass (v.26) – “for the day breaketh”. The one things all storms have in common is they pass.
  11. Brokenness makes us hungry for God (v.26) – “I will not”.  If we properly go through a process of brokenness, it should make us have a deeper hunger for God.  This speaks to intimacy.
  12. During times of struggle, hold onto God (v.26).  “I will not let thee go.”  During times of brokenness, sometimes all you can do is hold onto Jesus.
  13. Be honest with God (v.28) – “What is thy name?  And he said Jacob.”  Jacob’s name represented trickster, thief, dishonesty, and lies.  Jacob had to get transparent with God about who he was.  Likewise, brokenness happens when we reach a point of admitting our sin, inadequacy, inability to accomplish our leadership assignments apart from Him, and the fact we deserve death and hell except for the work of Jesus on the cross.
  14. God brings victory (v.28) – “Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel.”  Jesus, through the process of brokenness, gives us a new picture of who we are in light of Him.
  15. Your struggle will be an enduring testimony of God’s faithfulness (v.32) – “Therefore the children of Israel eat not of the sinew which shrank, which is upon the hollow of the thigh, unto this day: because he touched the hollow of Jacob’s thigh in the sinew that shrank.”  Your story of brokenness will become a testimony to God’s control and faithfulness in your life for generations.

If you are currently going through intense struggles I hope these lessons are a source of hope and encouragement.  Leaders, what did you learn from your brokenness experience?


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