Survive or Thrive? New Year’s Thoughts…

Have you ever had a moment when you were just praying to survive? Perhaps it was a job interview that you knew wasn’t going well. Maybe it was a date that wasn’t going well. Perhaps it’s one of your kids that seems to know “the right button to push”. During those moments where every ounce of sanity inside of you seems to be sucked dry, you muster up enough mental clarity to be able to pray for God to help you through the rough time.

Last year, I found myself in a couple of “survival mode” situations. As a leader, I found myself having to shuffle through the summer with minimal staff as we were transitioning into new leadership on my team during the busiest time of the year. There were times that I couldn’t figure out if I was coming or going. I felt like I was in survival mode for a stretch of time.

Another time last year, I felt like I was literally in “survival mode” while on a road trip with a couple of family members moving across country. I found myself on a blind-curve road at 9:00 a.m. in the mountains of western Colorado arguing with a relative about his desire for me to walk across the highway and take a picture standing on a bridge in 4 lanes of traffic on a blind curve. The same relative caused us to get a late start every day on our cross country trek, and even numerous times nearly caused us to wreck while pulling a U-Haul and trailer. I prayed many prayers asking for protection and for patience. I had moments of just trying to survive.

eDLHCtzRR0yfFtU0BQar_sylwiabartyzel_themapIn both scenarios, I slowly started to realize that I had a choice to make – I could  merely survive or I could take advantage of the opportunities and choose to thrive. In terms of my job responsibilities, I needed to step back and look at all the wonderful volunteers who graciously stepped in to fill voids. What a blessing! It also enabled me to really get to know other people that I would not have gotten to know. I needed to thrive by making the most of the situation. Furthermore, it’s been great to see how God has provided the right people at the right time for my team.

In terms of my stressful cross country trek, I needed to think about survival on the one hand, but on the other hand I needed to thrive. We were passing through areas of the country I’d never been before! What a cool drive from Southern California, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, and Missouri! I needed to relax and take in the scenery and conversations with family members that needed me. I needed to choose to thrive.


As we look at a new year, I’ve been challenged to thrive instead of merely survive. I’m reminded of how Jesus came “that we might have life, and life to the fullest” as Jesus tells us in John 10:10. He came into our world and the systems at work on this planet and brought new life and renewal that begins deep within our souls when we follow Him. My thriving comes when I’m anchored in connecting with God daily… take a minute to read John 15.

He didn’t come for us to merely survive, but to thrive. Not for us to get attention and glory, but for us to thrive as we live in Him and as we allow his light to illuminate our own lives at work, in our neighborhoods, on the court, and in our homes. He has given us this life – crazy and hard as it may be – to thrive and be lived to the fullest and it’s only found in Him. When I thrive because of God at work in me, He gets the attention and the praise.

May you thrive in 2015 and not merely survive!

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About the Author

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I am the Family Life Minister at Valley View. I am married to the lovely Jenny Havens. We have 5 children - Asher, Malachi, Selah, Titus, and Benaiah. I love throwing socks at my kids, riding bikes, backpacking, camping, and music! No-Bake cookies make me very happy.