Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A Note of Comfort for Church Council Members

Almost everyone who runs marathons knows about "the wall." When you run 26.2 miles, the first 14-17 miles aren't so bad. But somewhere between 18-20, lots of runners hit the wall, when their glycogen stores run dry and they experienced extreme fatigue as their body starts tapping into fat reserves for energy rather than glycogen stores.

The wall is a really hard place to be--you just want to give up, quit running, throw in the towel, and walk home. But if it is expected (knowledge is power), it can be prepared for in advance, and if you know what you are fighting, you also know you are fighting through something to a goal (the race finish) that is worth powering through the wall.

I tend to think that the spiritual life includes a number of such walls. As council members, I think it is very likely you are going through one such wall. As a council member, you have to go into gear as a volunteer in a busy organization, which is tiring in and of itself. Additionally, you probably engage in serious and sometimes trying conversations you weren't involved in before you were a council member. You start to analyze things from a new perspective. You could probably add to my list with quite a few more items that are like "the wall." In any event, serving on council inevitably sends you into some different and challenging stages of the Christian life and maturity in faith.

My prayer for you is that you will try to think of this wall like a runner thinks of the wall. First, they train and try to improve their bodies ability to handle the wall. In the spiritual life, this is probably being persistent in prayer, Scripture reading, and holy conversations. Then, a lot of runners take energy shots or beverages along on the ride for an extra jolt. In church, that probably means in the thick of things doing stuff that really gives you life, like trout fishing or middle school lock-ins. Finally, when you are actually in the wall, you keep in mind the goal. You're in a marathon, and you keep your eyes on the prize. It's important for each of us to keep in mind what that prize is. Faithfulness to the church and the ministry of Christ? A specific goal like improving our staffing, building, or??? Each of us will need to puzzle through that one as well. But I hope you have your eyes on the true prize, which is that the work you are doing, even though it is mundane and sometimes challenging, is a ministry that you have been called to by your election as a council member, and it is for the purpose of making the church as clear a proclaimer of Jesus Christ as we can.

And I hope you know you have companions on this journey who want to support you and are available to jog with you through the wall... including myself!

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