By Darren Young

One of the things I love to do is run marathons. Don’t stop reading! Let’s go somewhere important, even if you despise running. 

When I started pastoring, 14 years ago, God gave me marathon running. It sounds strange to say that God ‘gave me’ marathon running. I’m not sure that anyone asks God if He will let them run 26.2 miles over and over again. But it was a gift. 

Leading takes a toll on you. Relationally. Emotionally. Mentally. Spiritually. 

Running became my sanctuary. The place I go to be alone. To be with God. To block out the noise of leading (or at least try) and listen only to the sound of my feet hitting the pavement. The exertion of long-distance running, surprisingly, refreshes and restores me. Most days. 

My love of running (or more accurately, my need for it), is maybe why I love any biblical references to running.

  • Hebrews 12:1-2 …”Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
  • 2 Timothy 4:6-8 … “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up 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 loved his appearing.”

Several years back I heard someone comment on these verses (I can’t remember who it was).  But, they reminded me that many men and women have run this race before us. This race that God has given us. They also reminded me that many BETTER men and women (and leaders) have run it before us … and not finished; or not finished well.

You and I, as leaders, will not finish this race because we’re strong, fast, determined or talented. We simply won’t. The only way we will finish our race is because we are captured by God’s Spirit and live in the dust of Jesus’ steps.

This week I’m gathering with leaders from all over North America at the Exponential Church Planting Conference. 5,700 leaders are gathered together! We’re being challenged to reach farther and believe God for more. It matters. But as leaders, our desire to reach farther must be matched by our priority to root deeper. Year after year we see men and women – who are more qualified and gifted than you and I, stumble in their race … fall out or burn out.

Root deeper. That’s my encouragement for you today.

Pete Scazzero spoke Tuesday morning at Exponential on this very need – to not let our leadership get beyond our emotional health. I encourage you to read Pete’s book, The Emotionally Healthy Leader. As well John Mark Comer’s book The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry has been a blessing to me over the last month. It’s encouraged me to guard DEEP as much as I’m driven to go WIDE.

Pickup Pete or John’s book. Or simply pick up the Bible today and immerse yourself in the way of Jesus.

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