Creative Leadership

When Bad Things Happen

Maybe it's time to change our perspective...

I work in the entertainment and media business, and in my world bad stuff happens – on a pretty regular basis. This is a freelance business, and most people in Hollywood work on relatively short term projects. I took two calls today from friends who needed work, and another two who were losing their jobs. It’s an up and down thing, and even in what we call “religious media” it isn’t much better. I have two friends who might be let go in a week or so, and we’re scheduled to talk about their future tomorrow. So I’m thinking a lot about why bad stuff happens.

In the “prosperity gospel” world, much of the reason for bad stuff is us. Either we didn’t give enough money, or do enough for God to act in our favor. In a more liberal model, our environment is what’s killing us. The world that surrounds us – family, culture, and more is doing us in. But in times like this, it might be worth looking at a more Biblical reason for bad times. And Dr. Larry Poland, founder of Mastermedia International has the best list I’ve ever seen. I wanted to post it here because it might encourage many of you who, like the men in the New Testament asked Jesus “Who sinned?” “Who made this bad thing happen – his parents? Him? Who?”

The truth is, we live in a fallen world, and stuff happens. Here’s a list from Dr. Poland and it’s worth considering:

Larry W. Poland, Ph. D.

1. To shape our virtue (James 1:2-4)
2. To eliminate rebellion (Hebrews 5:8-10)
3. To deal with our pride (Daniel 4:28-34)
4. To “force feed” our faith (Mark 9:22b-24)
5. To lift our eyes above circumstances (Mark 4:38-40)
6. To make us like Christ (Romans 8:28-29a)
7. To purify us from evil (I Peter 4:1-2)
8. To break destructive habits (Romans 6:5-7)
9. To induce repentance (James 4:4-10)
10. To repay evil (Esther 7:5-8:2)
11. To stabilize emotions (Hebrews 12:3-7)
12. To correct wrong priorities (I Samuel 3:12-14)
13. To correct wrong direction (Jonah 1:1-13)
14. To correct wrong thinking (Numbers 12:1-15)
15. To develop intimacy with and dependence upon Him
(Matthew 23:37-39)
16. To make a moral object lesson for others (Acts 5:1-11)
17. To create an environment for miracle (Numbers 21:4-9)
18. To demonstrate divine power (John 9:1-8)
19. To teach an unforgettable lesson (Luke 15:17-20)
20. To instill wisdom (Matthew 26:69-75; Proverbs 19:25, 29:15)
21. To purge superficial motivation (Jonah 4:1-11)
22. To vitalize sluggish spirituality (I Corinthians 5:1-5)
23. To develop toughness (II Timothy 2:3-7)
24. To prepare for spiritual warfare (Ephesians 6:10-13)
25. To increase personal and ministry fruitfulness (John 15:1-8)
26. To protect from worse times (Hebrews 12:7-17; Proverbs 13:18)
27. To give us a lasting gift (Luke 6:20-26)
28. To create rewards and honor (Hebrews 11:32-40;
II Timothy 2:12; Romans 8:17-18; II Corinthians 4:17-18)
29. To generate thanksgiving and praise (Exodus 14:10-1 w/
15:1-22; I Peter 4:13)
30. To enhance the Glory of God (John 11:1-6)

© 2000, Larry W. Poland, Ph.D.


  1. Contrary to popular belief, not everyone in Hollywood is a millionaire. Most people in this town are no different than anyone else in America. We work hard to keep a roof over our head and feed our families.

    Like union members across this country we want fair payment for our work, health care and pensions.

    We also deserve Residual payment when others are reusing our creative work for profit. Lets face it, nothing happens in Hollywood until a writer types the words FADE IN.

  2. Phil. As a producer yourself, do you know of other producers that are on the side of the writers? It just seems incredibly narcissictic of them to hold onto such a minute %-point, with such greed. This may be a golden opportunity for a group of producers to stand up and say, "Come over here, we'll give you 5%." It sure would rock the boat. Does that kind of tactic actually work? Do you think we might see somthing like that happen in the future? Just curious.

  3. I concur….an outstanding, provocative list for further study and soul-searching.  When the going gets rough, interesting how we mere humans turn to God and His Word and we all find ourselves on common ground.  Often, the church flourishes under the hardest of times.

  4. Could there be a connection between the media scandals of the ministries back in the eighties, the peak of that being the Bakkers & Swaggart and then the following year (March 1988) had the longest WGA strike in the history of Hollywood and what is happening again today where the US media just had onslaught on ministries in 2006 – 2007 and then another WGA strike end of '07 enter '08? Just thinking?

  5. Leslie…too much "thinking." 🙂

    You are liable to get your "head chopped off" making such assertions.  But you have posed a most sobering and convicting correlation.

  6. I would add to this list a wonderful book, by Bruce Wilkinson, called "Secrets of the Vine". It is an awesome book on growing through times like this. -Dave

  7. I have not yet taken the time to look at each passage but I have a question.  Are all of the items on that list reasons for bad things to happen (causes), or are some of them results of bad things (effects) caused by something else?  (By "results of bad things" I am referring to how God works in our lives during such times.)

    It would be plain to me that a lot of the corrective or disciplinary passages would fall under the first part.  But it seems to me that for some of the others, God uses the bad (or even evil) for good, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the good God does was the cause for the bad to happen.

    Just thinking in print.

    (BTW, it is a good list and I will be spending some time studying the passages.)

  8. Powerful, powerful! Especially the last part, to enhance the glory of God. Yes, He does everything for his name sake and complete glorification. We need to keep ourselves in check about that or else we go around hating God and everyone in front of our. God is sovereign. Hes still sits in his thrown. He can and will do whatever He pleases, because…get this…he is Good and Just.

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