5 steps for endurance
Peter wrote it without asterisks or footnotes. "For this you have been called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps" (1 Peter 2:21). To many believers it is a metaphor of obedience, to follow in his steps. To many others, there is a more literal interpretation. As a result they flock to Jerusalem each year to walk the stations of the cross along the Via Dolorosa to approximate his journey and realize spiritual merit for their effort. As I contemplated his life while writing Finish. Period. Going the Distance in Ministry as I contemplated retirement a could of years ago, the meaning of following in his steps became more apparent and personal. We are to follow his steps to discover his endurance for the journey. These thoughts are a capsule of Chapter 3-Steps in that book Finish. Period. Going the Distance in Ministry.
Jesus modeled five definitive endurance steps during his earthly ministry. They are evident in the Gospel accounts as he fulfilled and finished the earthly mission assigned by the Father. More than mere metaphor, they are steps every believer should take to insure the completion of what he intends for our lives. There are promises too. But, for now, let's just list the steps we must follow if we are to discover the endurance so visible in Jesus' life.
The Step Down: the step of humility
Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the
likeness of men.
Philippians 2:7, HCSB
The step down is total submission to Christ, and demonstration of the servant
mind and heart of Christ in the pursuit of kingdom mission. It is the humility
The Step Up: the step of leadership
After Jesus was baptized, He went up immediately from the water. The heavens
suddenly opened for Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove
and coming down on Him. And there came a voice from heaven: This is My
beloved Son. I take delight in Him!
Matthew 3:16-17, HCSB
The step up for Christian leaders is the recognition of the high calling of
Christ and acceptance of the spiritual leadership inherent in that calling. it is
being his leader.
The Step Back: the step of perspective
They asked this to trap Him, in order that they might have evidence to accuse
Him. Jesus stooped down and started writing on the ground with His finger.
When they persisted in questioning Him, He stood up and said to them, “The one
without sin among you should be the first to throw a stone at her.”
John 8:6-7, HCSB
The step back occurs when we move away from an explosive situation so we
can process the scene, evaluate what is really happening, and determine a best
course of action in response to the moment. It is gaining perspective.
The Step Aside: the step of discernment
Yet He often withdrew to deserted places and prayed.
Luke 5:16, HCSB
The step aside is the discipline of discerning God's direction in making
significant life decisions and determining spiritual direction.
The Step Away: the step of refreshment
He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a remote place and rest for a
while.” For many people were coming and going, and they did not even have time
Mark 6:31, HCSB
The step away is the discipline of regularly walking away from routines for
renewal, refreshment, relaxation, rest, and recreation.
With such volatility so evident at every layer of life and with massive numbers of people walking away from life commitments and responsibility maybe it's time to develop discipline for finishing what we start. Or, more precisely, what he starts in us. Today we've become a nation of starters---the diet, daily Bible study, more time with the family, that dream job, date night with our spouse, more regular church attendance and a long list of resolutions---only to morph into a culture of drop-outs. To finish anything has become a nagging challenge.
These five steps are what Jesus did. It isn't so much forecasting and predicting what he did. It's right there in the pages of the New Testament. The test for us is to do what he did. We should just follow in his steps.
Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he
1 John 2:6, HCSB
Chapter 3, Steps, in Finish. Period. Going the Distance in Ministry provides much more detail about these five steps. They are, however, viable steps for discovering the endurance necessary for reaching the finish line of everything on our life agenda.