Pastor Larry Rogier wrote yesterday about Ministering From and For the Long Term.
Some years ago in ministry I made a horrible decision. It didn’t disqualify me or split the church. I didn’t kill anyone, or preach heresy. But it was a bad decision.
I didn’t make this decision based on the memory of past years . I didn’t make it in anticipation of future years. I made it on the basis of six months. And I made it out of anger, hurt, frustration.
And I regretted it.
When I read his article, I thought again of the verse I cited earlier this week — “Let us run with patience the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).
Patience means staying the course. It means looking at the whole picture, not just the “right now” (or in Larry’s case, the last six months). It’s easy for us to say that, but when you are in the middle of the “right now”, it is a lot harder to look at the entire race.
The most crucial point in a 10K race is usually in the fourth or early part of the fifth mile. Everyone can find the mental discipline to push through on the last straight. It is the runner who keeps discipline in the middle of the race who wins the race. If you set a pace too slow, as if you were running a marathon, everyone will leave you behind. If you want to be in first place RIGHT NOW, you might not finish. If you are too tired for how far you have come, you might have to recognise it is “one of those days” and adjust your pace. If you don’t follow the course, you’ll lose time or be disqualified. You have to keep your mind on the entire task, how far you’ve come and where you are going. This is at least part of what Larry is telling us.
One other paragraph struck me:
I lived out of fear, rather than out of care. I lived for immediate convenience rather than extended ministry. I lived out of hurt rather than courage.
When I read this, I thought of II Timothy 1:7: “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” What Pastor Rogier describes for us is fear instead of power and love, deciding “in the moment” rather than deciding with sound, disciplined thinking.
Decisions, whether “ministry” decisions or otherwise, should be made with the whole race in view. May God protect us from short term decisions driven by the wrong motivations. The race is set before us — may we finish it well.