One of my favorite things in football is a goal line play. Twenty two giants line up and try to push the ball across for a touchdown. It's pure will. Who will get the advantage? And it's even better when a running back keeps churning his legs to get every inch forward. It's also cool when the team runs something like Philly Special and takes everyone off guard.
The punch in the end zone is the finish, but certainly not the only part of the drive. Successful drives are often a mix of busted plays, dropped passes, long runs, and piles of dust. Yards are eaten up slowly, with perseverance, and can be maddeningly frustrating for not only players but those watching.
Leading in ministry looks like that too. You plow, you dig, you stretch, you push, and it doesn't feel like you're going anywhere. But over the course of a year, decade, and lifetime, you've accomplished something. Everyone loves fast turnaround stories in business or in sports (look at the body count Nick Saban and Urban Meyer have left behind them of coaches who couldn't win as quick as they did). But truthfully, it's a work of endurance.
Faithfully leading in the local church, especially in a revitalization effort, is often a series of incremental advances. It's 3 steps forward and 2 steps back. Or to use the football analogy, it's 3 yards and a cloud of dust. The key word is faithful. Our responsibility in leading God's people isn't to be the most clever, most creative, or make the biggest spectacle, it's to be faithful.
Preach the Word week in and week out. Don't focus on awkward response times. Your job is to proclaim what God has said and then trust Him with the results. He's working. You just can't see it.
Love your people. God has entrusted us as pastors with people who are dear to Him. So dear that Jesus died for them. We can't love them where we want them to be, we have to love them where they are. Even when they disagree with us or criticize us. Even when they're in adult diapers and can't remember us. Even when they make bad choices and shipwreck their families. Love them.
Serve well. Endurance means showing up every day and working hard, serving where God has placed you. It means loving your community, wearing out your knees in prayer, and putting in hours no one will ever see or give you credit for.
Hang in there pastor. The end zone is there.
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Scott M. Douglas
A blog about leadership and the lasting legacy of family ministry.