As I slogged through my morning run in unseasonably warm temps a conversation I had more than twenty years ago came to mind. I had been on a similar run with a good friend in college. I was older so surely wiser and we were discussing getting ahead in life, conquering the goals we had given ourselves and the like.
Then nearing the halfway point of our planned run my friend slowed down and exclaimed that he was done. It was too taxing and he was too tired to keep going. I then attempted to coach him about running through our “walls” and persevering. “If you want get to the next level, succeed at what is ahead of you, you need to keep running when you don’t have anything left.”
The reader will understand that this had more to do with than just running. I don’t know if he remembers the conversation, or finishing the run like a champ, but he has done well for himself so he figured it out somehow.
But as I was running this morning, it wasn’t perseverance to finish the physical run I had on my mind. Instead perseverance to finish the spiritual race we are called to run. Specifically, the call of pastors to keep going, to stick it out and lead in hard places.
Over the last several weeks I have been exhorting the church about having enough hope to persevere through the transformation we experience in Christ as part of his church. It is far too easy to bail out when there are churches more aligned with my political perspectives or preference of music etc. But we are made for the long haul, in community.
Then the Lord returns the question back on me as I have been preparing for a brief sabbatical to find some refreshment and rest.
I have a high view of God’s sovereignty, but I wonder how many churches miss out on fresh moves of God, or have them delayed, because pastors pull the ejection chord when things get hard or don’t live up to the ideal in our heads. For some this means leaving ministry, for others it can be finding a new flock that looks and feels more ideal.
Now I know the Lord calls leaders to new endeavors as he aligns the church to match his desires, but I wonder how many pastors convince themselves they are hearing a call when they really need to tap into some perseverance.
This is where the fruit is, this is where relationship is forged. This is where discipleship happens. This is what are called to.
So pastor brothers, keep running. The grace of Christ is sufficient for you even when it feels like you don’t have anything else, he is enough. Keep taking the steps, keep preaching the gospel, keep surrendering yourself to the transformation of the Spirit and see what he might do in and through you.
The Lord will refine you as he refines the church. Be up for that. And stick with them.
“Whenever you go out, walk together, and when you reach your destination, stay together.” – Augustine