Lutheran Church Extension Fund

Lessons from a Distance Runner!

Reading time: two minutes. Distance runner Karl Meltzer recently set the record for hiking the entire length of the2,200 mile long Appalachian Trail; just under 46 days.  In an interview (New York Magazine), he shared the keys to enduring such an ordeal. I think they fit pretty well for those in a life of ministry!  We’ll look at two or three each week for a little while, starting with… Pace yourself.  Read on for more!There’s nothing courageous or commendable in being exhausted all the time.  It’s fine to be pooped from time to time.  This ministry stuff is hard work!  But wise servants of the Lord know how to set a pace for the long haul. In his interview, Meltzer said that he kept telling himself it was okay to feel really good in the early days because he knew tougher times would come along. Some people in ministry seem to use the motto, “I’d rather flame out for God than rust out!”  That sounds admirable, but wouldn’t it be better to glow steadily and brightly for a long time than to burn out? Pace yourself.  Thanksgiving flows right into Advent and Christmas.  This is a great time of year to ensure a terrific season of ministry later by scheduling a couple of extra afternoons off, or some special family time now before the calendar squeezes it out. Here’s another tip from the ultra-marathoner: Beat and broken down?  Focus on what you can control. Many of the stresses we endure in ministry are because of the irresponsible choices of others.  Gossip, undue criticism, unreasonable comparisons with others… there’s not much we can do to control such things.  Other causes of anxiety are completely unforeseen and uncontrollable, such as sudden illness or death of members, natural disasters, families that relocate. We can control, however, our response to such things.  We have control over the time we spend in worship, in meditation and in prayer.  Such disciplines prepare us for the ordeals of ministry.  So do physical disciplines like sleep, diet and exercise.  Emotional disciplines, like keeping relationships grace-filled and light-hearted, can help too. Church worker health means growing in our capacity to deal with stuff (things? matters? circumstances?  insert favorite word here?) beyond our control by controlling what we can. One more tip: Practice gratitude.  In Meltzer’s ordeal, he tried to focus every day on the people who were helping make his record-setting expedition a reality; his crew, his family, etc. We have so much more to be thankful for, and a spirit of gratitude makes a huge difference.  When times get rough, pause to remember the humbling privilege of God’s call into His kingdom endeavors.  Thank Him for the gifts you have, the disciples who are alongside you, and the promise that this race will end one day in glory! We’ll look at a couple more next week!  Thanks for reading. Are you interested in helping bring a Grace Place Wellness Retreat to your region?  We’d love to hear from you.  Contact our President/CEO Randy Fauser today to begin exploring the possibilities.  Let’s have a conversation about bringing our Church Worker Retreat to your area soon!