Staying Focused in the Midst of Adversity with Mel Gibson
Best known for his action roles in Lethal Weapon and Mad Max, Academy Award winner, Mel Gibson has also directed Braveheart and The Passion of the Christ. After a hiatus from directing, Gibson recently returned to direct Hacksaw Ridge, which won two Academy Awards. We interviewed Gibson in 2017 and talked with him about his faith journey and how he responds to negativity.
Gibson reflects on how his faith has guided him from his youth to the present.
“…As for myself, I was fortunate to be raised in a family that was focused on teaching us our faith and the nature of this realm and beyond; that there is a God, that there is an afterlife, there is a Savior, and there is redemption. All these things are necessary for me. I am extremely fallible and very flawed. Even to the point where my dad said to me one time, ‘You are pretty hard on yourself, give yourself a break ya know.’ I’m not the best practitioner of what I believe., because maybe I need more faith, or a little more constancy to be a better example of all these things. There is no doubt about it that I’m flawed at what I am in need of. But at least I know where that well is when I have to go and take a drink, when I’m drying out and get spiritual aridity or something. It’s the never-ending struggle against self, and you’re always battling your own ego—‘I’m the big dog. No, you’re not the big dog.’ I think it’s that realization that brings you back.”
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3
Gibson opens up about how he focuses on what is important despite negativity.
“Well there is plenty of that. Everyone has to contend with something. You’ve heard the old expression, ‘We all have our own cross to bear.’ Some people have it way worse. You look at yourself and then you look at someone else and think, ‘How do they do it?’ It makes you feel fortunate and I think it’s really all a matter of perspective. You can be living in the mess the elephant makes on the ground, a big pile of steaming, hot dung, or you can be up in the clouds looking at the circus seeing the big picture. It’s a perspective shift. One time in the midst of a pretty bad time I was having I went on a medical mission down to Guatemala. I spent time in hospitals with kids with cerebral palsy, I held babies with spina bifida, I spent time with people in mental institutions and all these other ailments, in a place where they were not well-funded and needed help. That will pretty quickly shift you into the right perspective about feeling sorry for yourself and you quickly get into gratitude. It’s a massive perspective shift. In regards to how you deal with it, don’t dwell just on your situation in life and try to look at it in the big picture. Understand that whatever it is, it is for a reason. You just need to deal with it, drag it if you have to, or dump it. There are a lot of alternatives out there.”
Focus on the positive. In a culture that triumphs complaining and criticism, instead focus on the positive. If people are putting another person down or making fun of them, think of one good thing that person does and share it with the group. If you are going through a difficult situation, ask God to show you the positive in the midst of your challenge. Pray and ask Him to show you His truth or to give you a passage of scripture that can encourage you.
Serve others. Often if we are going through a difficult time, it can be helpful to serve others. It helps us to take the focus off ourselves. It also gives us perspective to our situation. God might also want to use your story or what you are learning through your difficult circumstance to help another person. If you are still having difficulty after serving, ask a friend or small group leader for their wisdom. They might be able to offer a different perspective and encourage you.
Have an attitude of gratitude. Be thankful. Take time this week to write down the things that you are thankful for. Thank God for the gifts and talents he has entrusted you with, your job, your home, your friends or family. Think back to the ways He has provided for you in the past. Be specific with your list. It can be too easy to get caught up with wanting more or focusing on what we don’t have instead of all the things God has entrusted us with.
To read our entire interview with Mel Gibson, click here.
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