Run Through the Tape
When I was in middle school, I decided to try out for the track & field team. Had I ever run track before? No. Did I know what I was doing? Not at all. But I had long legs, could run pretty fast, and my friends were doing it too. So it was an easy decision for me. I don’t remember much about all of the track meets that I participated in. But there’s one particular event that sticks out the most. Normally, I was assigned to run in the 4x100 relay, the 200m dash, and then I was done. And I was pretty good at them.
But one night, after I had finished my races, one of the other guys on the team couldn’t run in his long-distance event. And I was chosen to take his place. Keep in mind that I was already exhausted and genuinely don’t like long-distance running, but I did as I was told. Things started off well, but by the time I was halfway through the first lap, it was very clear that I would be finishing in last place. But I remember vividly hearing one of my coaches standing in the field, yelling, “C’mon, you can do it! Finish! Run all the way through!” Which was great advice even though everything in me wanted to quit & collapse!
I think that’s how a lot of pastors & ministers feel nowadays. According to Barna Research, in March of 2022, forty-two percent of pastors have left the ministry. That’s up 13 percent from 2021! Whether it’s from the pressures of ministering to your students, the long hours of hard work, or the stress of youth ministry in general, being a pastor can be tough. And that’s not including any challenges that you’re facing in your personal life, marriage, or with your children. Or the desire to frankly make more money doing something else that’s less stressful.
So if that’s you and you’re on the verge of quitting, I want to encourage you with the same advice that my track coach gave to me. Run through the tape. Meaning finish the assignment that God has placed in front of you. Don’t stop short of the finish line. Run all the way through it! You’re making an eternal impact for God’s Kingdom.
Of course, there are times when it’s probably better for someone to step away from being a pastor (church hurt, mental health, etc.). But there are moments when the pressure of being a pastor, plus the everyday struggles in life, will make you want to tap out. Throw in the towel. Take your ball and go home. It’s in that moment that you have to choose to keep moving ahead while relying on the grace and power of God to carry you daily. So, here are two questions to ask yourself if/when the thoughts of giving up come into your mind.
Am I trusting in God’s power to sustain me as I pursue His call on my life? Also, have I surrounded myself with people who will lovingly speak the truth of God’s Word & encourage me in the good & tough times? One day, you’ll get to the end of your race & step into eternity to receive your reward from Jesus. Make it your mission to finish the race strong. Don’t just run to the finish.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Share your thoughts with others in our YM360 community:
- When you face the temptation to give up or give in, what keeps you going? Who do you have to help you through?
- What are the main things that cause you to feel exhausted/burned out? What are some ways you can bring others alongside you in that?
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