It is often said that ministry is a marathon, not a sprint. I appreciate the point of the metaphor, which is that pastors need a sustainable pace of service. Even so, I wonder whether the comparison is too fast.
The past 21 months of ministry haven’t felt like a sprint or a jog. If anything, they’ve been a long, hard slog. I blame the pandemic. We seem to be stuck in a “Groundhog Day” scenario where just when we think we’ve got COVID licked, the alarm clock goes off, and we’re starting yesterday all over.
My father has often joked that his favorite poem is titled, “Plod On.” The punchline is that the entire poem is just the title repeated in stanza after stanza. Plod on. Plod on. Plod on. Plod on.
The mere thought of plodding is unappealing. We live in a right-now society where everything must happen quickly. The problem is that quicker doesn’t always mean better.
What’s the advantage of a fast car if you’re stuck in rush-hour traffic?
Who wants fast food if it tastes more fast than food?
How are quicker internet speeds helpful if the information superhighway is traffic-jammed with fake news?
Plodding seems unappealing, but it’s biblical. Both the Old and New Testaments use verbs of walking as metaphors for the life of faith.
“Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?” asks Psalm 15:1. Answer: “The one whose walk is blameless” (verse 2). Interestingly, in Judaism, the Hebrew verb for walking, halakh, lends itself to the body of Jewish law that includes both biblical commandments and traditional interpretations — the Halakha.
Paul exhorts believers, “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16). Similarly, “Walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us” (Ephesians 5:2).
The benefit of walking is that it sets the most sustainable pace. If you want to go fast, by all means, run. If you want to go far, walk. That truth is literal and — applied to life and ministry — spiritual, too.
Robert Frost wrote that “the best way out is always through.” That’s good advice at present. So, take a deep breath, adjust your pack, tie your shoes … and plod on!
If we “keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25), the Spirit will lead us where we need to be at just the right time.
P.S. This article is cross-posted from InfluenceMagazine.com by permission.