“I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14
Pastor Bill Hybels once said if he was on his death bed, one of the last things he would say to church leaders is “Pace yourself for the long-haul.” It reminds me of an interview I once read with a pastor of a new church several years ago. They had just finished their building on the outskirts of town. The pastor was asked, “Why in the world would you want to move out here in the middle of nowhere?” He said, “Because in fifteen years this neighborhood will be in the heart of the community.”
He was right. Several years ago their church property was in the boonies. Within a
10-year period they were surrounded by Target, Kroger, a major mall, and dozens of other businesses, and hundreds of new homes. And the area is still booming, even today. The church has benefited from the growth, and, of course, the community has benefited from the church’s presence. Back then, fifteen years seemed like forever. But those years have come and gone, and several more besides. This pastor’s
long-haul strategy paid off in a big way, even though they had to endure a few years of being the church in the boondocks.
Jesus completely understood what it meant to prepare His disciples for what was ahead of them in life and ministry. As you read through the gospels you will find several occasions where Jesus’ teaching of the twelve disciples focuses on what is ahead for them and how to best prepare for that future time of ministry.
As tempting as it is to direct all of our energy to the urgency of what-needs-to-happen-now, we cannot forget that the greatest (and most enduring) success comes when we settle in for the long-haul. Ready or not, the next ten years will come and go. And though you can’t ignore completely the needs of today, don’t make the mistake of failing to look beyond the immediate horizon.
Here are a couple encouraging verses to consider as you plan and prepare for the future.
“Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established.” Proverbs 16:3
“The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.”
In the midst of the necessary now-centric busy-ness, make sure you’re doing something today — and every day — that keeps you moving forward in the decades to come.