Perils of the plateau

by Linzy Slayden

Most of us associate danger with a soaring mountain peak or a dark valley, but the plateau may be the most dangerous place of all.

When we are on the plateau, the path is easy because we are not climbing. Unlike the valley, the plateau has more light, few if any hidden enemies, and the atmosphere is much more encouraging. After hours of climbing, we are grateful to reach the plateau and have a chance to rest.

But if we stay on the plateau, the climb has been in vain. We may settle down, get accustomed to the achievement, and start to waste our gains. We are better off fighting our way through the valley, or working our way up the slopes, than staying on the plateau where there is no challenge to our courage, our muscles, or our faith.

We all know plateaus are necessary, that we must occasionally stop, rest, and get our bearings. But if we stay on the plateau, we are facing a great peril. The minute we have “arrived,” we can easily become comfortable; and it is just a small step from comfort to complacency. Once we become complacent, we stop growing, which can be the first step of a downhill slide and loss of spiritual power. When we stop growing, we stop living and start merely existing.

Life is not a destination; it is a journey. Once we think our journey is over, that our reason for climbing has ended, then we lose our enthusiasm and challenge, and life becomes boring.

I think it is a danger to have the attitude “I have arrived!” This false satisfaction will not help us finish the journey. When we get on a plateau with this attitude, it is easy for us to stray from the original calling of God upon our lives. The person who has “arrived” can be proud of himself and critical of others.

There is also the peril of false security. Granted, the plateau may appear safer than the valley or the peak, but it is not. We are never safer than when we are growing.

We all need new challenges to keep us from the perils of the plateau. We need intellectual challenges to keep us thinking. We need physical challenges to keep us moving, and spiritual challenges to keep us digging deeper into the Word and trusting God more. F.B. Meyer once said, “I don’t want my life to end in a swamp.” But how many lives are stagnant pools because nothing new is coming in, and nothing useful is going out?

We have to keep climbing, and we dare not become complacent. This is especially true in the ministry. There are times when we get on a delightful plateau, but we shouldn’t stay there. This is one of the many reasons I like our Fellowship meetings. They refresh and challenge me for the journey. The February BBFI meeting in Austin, TX, promises to be a special time. I hope you will make plans to be there.