Magazines 2022 Mar - Apr Finishing Strong: Exploring Endurance and Resiliency in Ministry

Finishing Strong: Exploring Endurance and Resiliency in Ministry

27 February 2022 By David Daniels

An extended review of a 2020 book by Glenn C. Taylor

Note: Our print issue contains a shorter version of this review. Faith Today welcomes your thoughts on any of our reviews. We also welcome suggestions of other Canadian Christian books to review: Contact us.

finishing strong bookBook by Glenn C. Taylor (Independent, 2020). 134 pages. $12 (e-book $5)

If anyone knows how to finish strong, it is surely Glenn Taylor. In his 80s, with over 60 years of ministry experience, he leaves a legacy of changed lives and a growing body of writing that will encourage readers for years to come.

In this latest book, readers will sense Taylor’s passion for helping Christian ministry people successfully reach the finish line – to finish strong. Countless women and men in vocational ministry, along with numerous congregations and organizations, have benefited from his counsel.

Glenn Taylor is an ordained pastor and certified clinical psychologist with multiple earned degrees in theology and psychology. His ministry career includes pioneering and pastoring three congregations, serving as a correctional chaplain, 15 years in Bible college teaching and administration, leading a large urban ministry and decades of counseling, consulting and conflict resolution in 30 countries. Finding a more qualified person to write this book would be difficult.

While finishing strong is straightforward for some, for most Taylor says it resembles “navigating a backwoods trail that involves crossing rivers, climbing mountains, running rapids, trying to find a compass bearing to lead you through a swamp.” Finishing strong requires endurance and resiliency – two concepts framing the discussion in this book.

The biblical perspective on endurance closely mirrors modern definitions of the term. It speaks of the ability to patiently bear up under hardship, to persevere despite the obstacles. Resiliency, a term not found in Scripture but amply demonstrated within its pages, speaks of the ability to bounce back from adversity. Resilience is about recovery and restoration. Taken together, endurance and resiliency speak to one’s ability to survive what is sometimes called a “wilderness experience” or described as a “dark night of the soul.”

While one may easily think of endurance and resiliency as personality characteristics, Taylor says they are better understood as relational qualities. Endurance and resilience develop from relationships with “the Holy Spirit, relationships within our community of faith, relationships with those outside the faith, including the intentions of Satan, and most certainly, our relationship or understanding of ourselves.” Taylor points to key biblical figures who encountered challenges and adversities similar to those faced by ministry personnel today. He shows that even in the darkest season of the soul, relationships, especially with God himself, are key to developing endurance and resiliency.

Drawing from his expertise in clinical psychology informed by his evangelical theology, Taylor contends that one’s ability to both endure and recover from the inevitable challenges and adversities encountered in ministry are influenced by their physical, emotional, mental, social and spiritual health.   

Outlining significant hinderances to finishing strong, Taylor challenges readers to consider how their formative years, when behavioural patterns, attitudes and values were established, influence their approach ministry. He encourages reflection on one’s gifts and abilities, ministry expectations, approach to conflict resolution, philosophy of leadership, and response to stress. Above all, he wants individuals to understand and acknowledge their own contribution to the difficulties they encounter in ministry.

While many collapse under the pressure, giving up in defeat and despair, Taylor holds out hope for growing into endurance and resiliency. This requires clarity that comes with a new perspective on the meaning of one’s difficulties in ministry.

Contrary to human expectation, the Scriptures tell us to count it all joy when facing trials of all kinds because God is using them to complete his purpose of conforming his children to the image of Christ. Trials and tests must be understood from an eternal perspective of a Transcendent God who is at work in our circumstances, preparing us for life in the new heaven and earth that is yet to come.

Finishing Strong successfully integrates the best of psychological findings with infallible, trustworthy biblical truth. Throughout this book, Glenn Taylor consistently demonstrates how Scripture informs and governs his psychological interpretation of human experience. This is a valuable resource for ministry personnel, and if read and applied, will do much to salvage the ministry careers of discouraged servants of God.

Having recently completed 48 years of vocational Christian ministry, I wish this book had been available to me years ago. It would have been a welcome guide through the inevitable wilderness experiences common to vocational ministry.

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