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Finishing the race well

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7

The speed of life and ministry at Mars Hill Church can leave you in a spin. It can wear you out or distract you from the real goal to see the kingdom of God come. In my early years of vocational ministry, I like the fast-paced, high-quality expectations that are placed on staff and volunteers here. We are a church that preaches grace and Jesus, and because of this, we expect to give our best, because Jesus first gave his best for us.

But because of my sinful heart, I can get caught up in the pace and expectations and lose focus on “why” I do what I do. In the time I have been a lead pastor resident, I have had to be reminded that I don’t give my best and work hard for the praise of man or the satisfaction of a “job well done.” I give my best because Jesus gave his best for me. Jesus gave his life so that I might be reconciled to God. He emptied himself so I could be free to give my best in service to him.

But how does any of this apply to my last day of ministry and finishing well? I know that working for the approval of others will destroy me and rob me of any joy I have in ministry; it is a slippery slope that only leads to burnout and destruction. But, I also know when I work from my identity as a son of King Jesus and a redeemed creation in Christ, I am free to give my best and be joyful in my work.

Every single day I pray God will keep me faithfully serving him, my wife, and my church until he calls me to be with him. Ministry is a marathon, not a sprint. I don’t want to be the guy who does great for five years only to then burn out, hurting his walk with Jesus, his family, and his church.

I want to serve Jesus faithfully all of my days—finishing strong, keeping the faith, and waking up at the end of a long and fruitful life having run the race well to look into the eyes of Jesus and hear him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.”

Ryan Williams is a pastoral resident at the Downtown Bellevue church.

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