As a distance runner, I face challenges. One of my biggest is a hill at the end of a long run. When I’m tired and hot, the last thing I want to face is a hill. The temptation is strong to slow down or even stop.
The same thing happens in ministry. We work hard and enjoy a successful stretch only to be faced with a difficult person, a painful misunderstanding, a lack of funds for an important project, a family crisis, loss of a staff member, or any number of disheartening situations. The temptation is strong to withdraw emotionally or quit.
The solution we runners use is the same principle in ministry. Leaning. We lean into the slope while maintaining the same pace. We don’t slow down and we don’t try to run faster to accommodate the change in grade. We simply increase our intensity.
In ministry, we often need that same approach.
Lean into God’s Word
Keep your regular routine going but add an extra 5-10 minutes of focus on surrender. Some suggestions …
- Write out each phrase of Romans 12:1-2. Beside each, describe what it means to you and how you can live it out.
- Get perspective on your difficulty by reviewing Paul’s in 2 Corinthians 11:23-29.
- Review how God’s grace works in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.
- Think about what Jesus experienced and how He responded in John 19:1-37.
- Lean into prayer
Again, keep up your regular routine but add a few minutes concentrated on your situation. After you have read the Scriptures above, pray over them, personalizing them to fit what’s going on in your life.
Lean into fasting
Depending on how agonizing the concern is, you can skip a meal, fast for a day, skip lunch for a week, or fast for several days. Use the time you would normally spend eating, to immerse yourself in Scripture, prayer or a vision-inspiring Christian book such as “The Purpose Driven Life”, “Chasing Daylight” or “Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire.” No matter what you choose, make that time intentionally focused on listening to God.
Lean into accountability
Gather your most trusted friend(s) close for prayer. Be very careful in this. Your motives must be pure and your words must be holy. Slander and criticism are not honoring to the Lord. An honest need for help and support, however, can be conveyed and sincerely prayed over.
Lean as long as it takes to make it up the hill. God strengthens those whose hearts are fully committed to Him (2 Chron. 16:9) so don’t give up. The rewards of faithfulness, perseverance and trust will take you to deeper places both personally and in your ministry.
How have you successfully leaned into challenges?
Lyn Smith served in Bible Study Fellowship International for 20 years as a Bible teacher and leadership trainer. You can read her blog and get to know her at www.lynsmith.org. She co-hosts blog talk radio show “Living Truth”, serves on the Human Trafficking Task Force for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, and is on the speaking and writing team ofLeadHer. She lives with her husband and three children in the Oklahoma City area. When she's not doing life in her four-inch stilettos, she's being athletic and running in her favorite sneakers.