Fix your eyes on Jesus and the finish line by reading Hebrews 12:1–3 every day for ten days.
Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. —Hebrews 12:1
The name of an elite runner from Tanzania was written in sports history books at the 1968 Olympics—without him winning one medal.
John Stephen Akhwari joined the field of seventy-eight competitors in Mexico City for a twenty-six-mile marathon. Around the halfway mark, Akhwari suffered severe injuries when he became entangled with other runners, stumbled, and hit the track with full-body force.
A medic team rushed to his aid, bandaging his bloody wounds and dislocated knee, and recommended the obvious—withdrawal from the race. Akhwari refused to give up. The tenacious athlete limped in agony over the remaining thirteen miles to cross the finish line one hour after the race was over.
When asked how he endured under excruciating pain and impossible odds, his answer is still remembered over fifty years later, “My country didn’t send me 5000 miles to start the race. They sent me 5000 miles to finish the race.”
A commitment to starting and finishing doesn’t just apply to sports heroes. The same is true for ministry leaders. Many will enter the race, but not all will finish.
Far from a burst-and-bust sprint, the race of faith is a marathon that requires leaders to look beyond the daily ministry challenges (even painful circumstances and difficult people) by fixing our eyes on Jesus and the finish line ahead.
Where does the perseverance to run faithfully come from? Ministry endurance comes from our forerunner, who ran with nail-pierced feet. The author and perfecter of our faith never gave up, so we can follow in His footsteps. Jesus started and finished the work the Father gave Him to do (John 4:34). How can we do less? Because Jesus is worthy; quitting isn’t an option.
Friends, we’re a mixed bag of plodders and joggers who all run at different speeds. What matters most in the race of faith is that we finish. When our eyes fixate on the promised prize at the end, we’ll cross the finish line in victory. We can keep the pace, knowing Jesus is cheering us on to victory and will award us with a gold medal inscribed, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Jesus, I look to You, not myself, for endurance to run the race. Teach me to focus on You to avoid being sidelined by the frustrations, disappointments, and failures in ministry. Thank you for providing Holy Spirit stamina all the way to the finish line. I run for Your glory, for You alone are worthy. Amen.
Reflect and Respond
- Make a list of the ways the God of “endurance and encouragement” (Rom. 15:5) has supplied everything you need to run with perseverance.
- Who can you ask to become a running partner—someone to encourage you when the race gets hard and you feel like quitting?