This week, thousands of people have gathered in Tokyo and millions of others from around the world will watch great athletes from over 200 countries compete for gold medals in the Olympic games. Years of hard work, dedication, and desire are put to the ultimate test in the Summer Olympics.
Imagine if you saw an interview with an athlete who said: “To be honest, I don’t really care about winning any medals, I’m just glad to be here for the sushi and the sake’.” Personally, I wouldn’t want that individual representing my nation. I want those who represent me to strive to be the very best they can be and to achieve the goals they set out to accomplish. Sure, the medals are hung around the neck of one person, but the whole world sees that nation proudly being honored.
The Apostle Paul was familiar with Olympic like games. He is one of the things he said about the games.“Remember that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize. You also must run in such a way that you will win. All athletes practice strict self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. I Corinthians 9:24-25
The Bible compares the Christian life to a race. This race we are called to run in is not a one-hundred-meter dash. It’s a marathon. It begins the moment you accept Jesus Christ into your life, and it ends here on earth the moment you die. This race is also not run on a flat terrain. It has hills and it has valleys, and it has bumps and it has curves. And it has lonely stretches through the desert. It’s a tough race.
To finish the race of life you don’t have to have world class speed. It’s not who can get there first. But you do have to have endurance. Endurance is a key quality of living a life of Christian leadership. The Bible says, ’Therefore since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Hebrews 12:1
At the 1968 Olympics, over one hour after the marathon’s winner finished the race Tanzania’s John Stephen Akhwari limped across the finish line, having been injured in a fall early in the race. Asked why he didn’t quit, he said,
“My country did not send me 7,000 miles to start this race, my country sent me to finish.”
As Christian leaders we are called to finish what God has started in us, to run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
One day we all will stand at the Olympic platform of heaven, where Jesus himself will reward us for how well we competed for the prize. How well did we seek in our lives and ministries to fulfill the Great Commandment and the Great Commission Jesus gave us?
Did we strive to help others to love God (Worship) and one another? (Fellowship) Did we go make disciples (Evangelism) and teach them (Discipleship) to serve others? (Ministry)
Jesus has entrusted us as leaders of his church and until he comes again we are to, “fight the good fight, finish the race, keep the faith” 2 Timothy 4:7