When starting something new one of the dangers or pitfalls we as leaders face is that we can focus on the initial speed of our progress, but often forget or overlook the fact that to be a successful competitive athlete we need: consistency and endurance. This is true for us as Christ followers and as leaders too. We may start out in the front lines, leading, but if our progress is not consistent and if we lack endurance we can so easily become entangled with the affairs of this life (2 Timothy 2:4; Galatians 5:1). If we are not aware and alert we will fall back as we wrestle and struggle with the stress of the race.
Our lives in eternity are being affected by the many daily choices we make now. “Remember those early days after you first saw the light? Those were the hard times! Kicked around in public, targets of every kind of abuse—some days it was you, other days your friends. If some friends went to prison, you stuck by them. If some enemies broke in and seized your goods, you let them go with a smile, knowing they couldn’t touch your real treasure. Nothing they did bothered you, nothing set you back. So don’t throw it all away now. You were sure of yourselves then. It’s still a sure thing! But you need to stick it out, staying with God’s plan so you’ll be there for the promised completion. It won’t be long now, he’s on the way; he’ll show up most any minute. But anyone who is right with me thrives on loyal trust; if he cuts and runs, I won’t be very happy. But we’re not quitters who lose out. Oh, no! We’ll stay with it and survive, trusting all the way.” (Hebrews 10:32-39; The Message)
In any contest, the important factor is not how many start but who finishes the race and completes the course, who wins the prize. Late in life, Paul declared, “7I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing...” (2 Timothy 4:7- 8; NIV)
Scripture exhorts us; “let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us, 2 Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Just think of Him Who endured from sinners such grievous opposition and bitter hostility against Himself [reckon up and consider it all in comparison with your trials], so that you may not grow weary or exhausted, losing heart and relaxing and fainting in your minds.” (Hebrews 12:1-3; The Amplified Bible) and you can also have a look at 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 if you’d like to.
These verses encourage and challenge us to consider various aspects about the race “set before us” – the very need for endurance; the clarity and focus of our vision; keeping the rules; self-discipline and the desire and determination to win. If we lack or waver in any of these areas, we will become vulnerable to discouragement, defeat and failure.
Paul repeatedly encouraged believers “to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” (Acts 14:22; NIV).
The need for endurance in the Christian life is crucial. A continual warfare is taking place in the heavenlies (2 Corinthians 10:3-5; Ephesians 6:12) whether we are aware of it or not and being a soldier is not enough to win the war. We must actively “fight a good fight!” (1 Timothy 6:12) All the weaponry in the world will not be able to help us in any way unless we actively resist the onslaughts and attacks of the enemy (Ephesians 6:12).
“13I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13; NIV)
“Whatever you do, put your whole heart and soul into it, as into work done for God, and not merely for men—knowing that your real reward, a heavenly one, will come from God, since you are actually employed by Christ and not just by your earthly master.” (Colossians 3:23-24; JB Phillips)
“31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31; NIV)
“4Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His presence continually!” (Psalm 105:4; ESV)
Take a few moments, reflect, be honest with yourself, evaluate different areas of your life… how are you really doing?