Marathons have mile markers for a reason. A runner may be absolutely exhausted. Your tank is near empty. Your muscles are screaming. Your brain tells you to stop so the pain will end. I’ve been there.
But, when you know how close the finish line is, you can see yourself getting there. Even if it’s five miles away and that distance is going to be hard, you know you can do it. You’ve trained and you remember how you pushed yourself for another five miles. You did it in training; you can do it now.
A Moving Finish Line
The problem we face as pastors in this pandemic is there are no mile markers and the finish line keeps moving.
In fact, every time we think we are close, something changes. Another restriction. Another lockdown. Another week or four added to the timeline. Another activity taken off the allowable list. The building you rent for gatherings changes their restrictions. A key volunteer quits. A technological piece craps out once more at the worst moment. Key people in your congregation demand that you act like a man or woman of God and get the church back to normal.
How can you get through this?
5 Steps to Stay In When You Feel You’re Getting Swept Away
1. Return to your call.
“He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6
God called you. Staying in to the finish goes back to the start. God is working on you because you are more important than the work.
Flip the script. “I am not doing your work; you are doing your work in me.”
Return back to the call not because God needs me, but because I need God. God called me. Therefore I align with God.
“God wants us in a place of deeper dependency on Him. Dependency yields a greater authority to minister for Him. The thing we resist sometimes is the very thing God is trying to do to align us with him and grant us more of His presence. While we don’t like this moment, in reality this could be a time when God does some of his greatest work. Personal renewal leads to corporate change.” Terry Walling, Leader Breakthru
2. Let God refine your call.
See what God is actually adding to your call. Maybe God is adding perseverance, strength, patience or the need to raise up a team rather than feeling responsible to do everything yourself.
If we are going to grow to a new place as a church, we need to go to a new place in our dependency on God. Every pastor is in transition during this pandemic. Instead of resisting the transition, move toward it, lean into it, and get all you can out of it.
3. Return back to how the call works.
God is always at work. Our call is to align with that work.
“Give me eyes to see and ears to hear what you are at work doing.”
Expect to stall, but not to fall, in fulfilling God’s call.
4. Process and respond.
Make sure that you have people who are giving to you and they're actually helping you process what you're experiencing.
You need an outlet to process.
You need some time to actually think of your response.
Research shows that leaders who finish well exhibit a specific series of characteristics.
A. They are intentional in their personal development.
B. They experience repeated times of personal renewal.
C. They are committed to getting the help of a coach, mentor, or an empathetic leader further along the way.
5. Understand the time and what you're living through.
We think a pandemic is going on. What is going on is God is using this very moment to shape you.
"Leaders thrust off the map in a rapidly changing world must trust that God is taking us into uncharted territory to extend the healing, justice and loving rule of God to all the world, and at the same time to transform us. The great discovery in following Christ into his mission is that we find ourselves being continually formed to be like Jesus. By doing the work of the kingdom, we become like the King." Tod Bolsinger, Canoeing the Mountains
Taking these five steps will help you stay in and get to the finish line.