9th June 2016
It was my last ever sports day of junior school. I was eleven years old and I wanted to end my years at Newnham Junior School on a high! As I stood on the starting line for the 400 metres, I thought back to last year’s race – I had run too fast at the outset, had fallen behind on the final straight, and had been beaten. This year, I was determined not to allow that to happen again. As I came around the bend of the last lap, I sprinted out of the pack and crossed the finish line. I had won! This marked the high point in my brief athletics career – I may have lost the year before, but this time I got my pace right.
Over the years, I have come to realise that pastoral ministry is more of a marathon than a sprint. There are far too many casualties among those who share my calling and job, whether that is from moral failure, emotional breakdown or the misuse of money or power. It seems to me that all too frequently, the dangers of 'measure, treasure or pleasure' disqualify good men and women from running the race.
I find myself pondering why it is that so many succumb to injury and drop out of the race. The reasons are probably numerous, but I believe one of the dangers is having a lifestyle with an unsustainable pace. Living life in this way puts leaders, or for that matter anyone in a demanding job, in a very vulnerable place. You may think that you can keep going at that speed, but pretty soon warning signs will begin to show: short temper, disengagement from the family, spiritual dullness, or just plain old fatigue. Being in such a position can leave you far more susceptible to the enemy’s temptations.
It is important to take time to step back occasionally and consider how you are doing. I am aware that in the last few months the pace in my own life has picked up again. Since I became a pastor, I have endeavoured to put in place a rhythm of life that I can sustain over the long haul. And as I begin to feel the effects of running hard, I am glad to see that I am only a few weeks away now from my summer holiday and this year’s two week study break. It does me good to step out of the race for a while, to get off the treadmill and give myself time to relax, recharge and refocus. I know that it means I can return refreshed and ready for the next lap.
How is your pace at the moment?
Posted by Steve Tibbert
Steve Tibbert leads King’s Church London, with sites in Catford, Downham and Lee. Over the past fifteen years the church has seen continued growth, both in size and diversity. Steve is also involved in Newfrontiers and regularly coaches other lead elders. His book, Good to Grow, was published in July 2011. He is married to Deb, and they have three sons.