The Credit Belongs

Posted: January 17, 2012 in Church Leadership, Random Thoughts
Tags: , , , , , , ,

My favorite quote reads:

“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again–because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotion, spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who have never tasted victory or defeat.”  —Teddy Roosevelt

I have respect:  For those in the game.  Those who give it all. Those who risk everything. Those who leave it all on the field. Those who push their chips “all in”.

I do not respect:  Those who criticize from the climate-controlled booth.  The ones who chuck popcorn from the cheap seats. The armchair quarterbacks. The backseat drivers.

I used to be one of those people. I used to criticize other church leaders. I used to cast doubt. I used to think I could do it better. I used to think I knew better. Arrogant thinking.

Now I’m the Lead Pastor of a church. As one who is “in the arena”, I have a greater appreciation for the price of leadership.  I can talk about risk when it comes to inheriting a church whose Sr. Pastor was removed for an affair.  I can talk about sacrifice when I moved my family across town, taking a huge monthly financial loss.  I can talk about perseverance, uprooting from a home we’d known for almost 9 years. I can talk about teamwork, watching three teenage daughters transplant to a new culture in a crucial stage of their social development.  I can talk about fortitude, dealing with tenants, taking a huge paycut, and watching our savings dwindle to nothing.  I can talk about resolve, when the very people we serve criticize the WAY we do it.  I can talk about loss when our style of ministry costs us friends.  I can talk about victory, seeing Jesus break addictions and restore relationships. I can talk about joy seeing one person come to faith in Christ.

Some may criticize.  Some may condemn.  Some may question.  Most can’t relate.  See the sweat and blood on my face. Walk in my shoes.  Travel this road.

In the New Testament, an ex-murderer-turned Jesus Freak wrote to his buddy Timothy at the end of his life and ministry:

2 Timothy 4:5-8 (NIV) 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. 6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day–and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

This is what drives me.  This is why I left the comfort of a deskjob and stepped into church leadership. Honestly, I’d rather fail at doing this than succeed doing anything else.  May God use me and my gifts somehow through this.  I want to be known as this type of leader; this type of man.  A man who strives valiantly. A man who risks greatly. A man who lives daringly. A man who cares deeply. A man who serves boldly.

I want to be known as a man who is more consumed for heaven than concerned about earth. A man on a mission. May my place never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV) 7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

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