the race is not always to the swift...
I used to have a poster on the door of my study that showed a lonely runner on an open highway with the caption, "The race is not always to the swift, but to those who keep on running." It was a daily reminder of the nature of ministry.
Of course we all know that the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over but expect different results. So clearly ministry needs to include evaluation, discernment, and "counting the cost." But, too often we give up too soon. We come back from a conference and start a new program and when it doesn't turn the church around within a month, we drop it. We do a sermon series dear to our hearts and hope for a revival, and then get disappointed when there isn't a large jump in confessions of faith.
We live in a world of fast food, technical immediacy, and short fad cycles. Our patience to stay with an effort naturally gets worn down. And yet, the race is often to those who keep on running. There are certain landmarks in our years of ministry that begin to yield fruit. There is a readiness that sometimes has to settle in, both in us and our congregants. Some change only takes place over time. Some people won't move forward until they begin to think it is their idea. Many have to be convinced of the importance, not the urgency.
So, when you begin to get frustrated because things aren't moving as quickly as you would like, ask yourself some questions:
- Have I given this effort sufficient time to play itself out?
- Is there a flaw in the goal or in the strategy?
- Am I dealing more with my impatience than I am with real progress that is taking place?
- Am I measuring all the things that count?
- Are people being encouraged to celebrate the gains that are made (to increase momentum)?
- Am I trying to make sprint out of a marathon?