“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. “–Heb. 12:1-3
Statistics show that only one in ten pastors will finish as a pastor. Think about that– a 90% drop out rate! That’s shocking and exceedingly sad. Many start well, but few finish well. Of all people you would think, and hope, that they would never quit, give in, give up, or turn back–but most do. And, since this is true of pastors, it should not surprise us that so many others fail to finish their course. If those who regularly study and teach God’s Word quit the ministry it is not surprising that others would throw in the towel. Why?
While every case is different, I believe the root reason for failure is the same for everyone— a failure to keep “looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith”(Heb. 12:2). When we fail to focus on Him we faint, fall, and fail. We are safe only so long as we keep our eyes on Christ. Without Him we can do nothing. With Him all things are possible. Everyone, except those involved in it, think the ministry is easy, but it isn’t. Perhaps the only thing more difficult than being a pastor is being a pastor’s wife. But the fact of the matter is that all Christian ministry is hard –if you do it right. The demands of discipleship are difficult. While it cost nothing to become a Christian, it will cost you everything to be a true follower of Christ–“ So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath , he cannot be my disciple.”(Luke 14:33).
The only way any of us can complete our course is to constantly consider Christ. The only way to be faithful and become fruitful is to abide in Christ (John 15:1-7). To fail here is to fail altogether. Our motto should be “For to me to live is Christ…“(Phil.1:21). He is the One who enables us to “do all things” (Phil. 4:13) and is able to “supply all your need”(Phil.4:19). Why would we quit on a God like this?
Failure doesn’t happen overnight, it is the result of neglect. Backsliding is like a slow leak, rather than a blowout. When a person neglects Bible study. prayer, and duty it is just a matter of time before they faint from the hardness of the way, yield to temptation, revert back to their old ways, and drop out. Truth be known, some of you are headed in that direction at this very moment and unless you change your ways you will fail to finish your course–even if you are a pastor, or a pastor’s wife.
Our resolve should be to be “faithful unto death”(Rev. 2:10). Our reliance should be entirely on Christ. Our responsibilities should be fulfilled. Our race should be finished. Our reward shall be great. May God help us to say with Paul,“But none of these things move me , neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.”(Acts 20:24). O to be able to say,as Paul did,” I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:” (2 Tim. 4:7). Regardless of what hardships we are forced to face, to hear our Master say “Well done!” will be worth it all.