How to Remain Spiritually Healthy for the Long Haul

By on June 7, 2022   /   Leave a comment

Can you remember the last hard thing that you accomplished? 

When we hear this question we often think of finishing things like marathons, a degree or licensure. For some it may mean paying off debt or as my wife reminds me, pregnancy… yeah that’s hard! Several of us have been through surgery recovery or overcoming a disease (many still in process). Maybe it was something a little less serious, but still hard — a house remodel! I wish I was friends with Joanna and Chip. 

Here’s the point. You have done really hard things. And you will do hard things again. Genesis tells us that we are created to work and the curse of sin makes that work hard. You are not alone in this hard work living – we are all doing it. 

As you raise support for the work God has called you to, it is not a surprise that it is hard work! 

After college athletics I decided to run. I wasn’t Forrest Gump, but I enjoyed the competition of marathons. I continued running and then I had kids… I started to run less. In my early 30’s I decided to run a measly half marathon. I started to train and a month in I found my stride. Then it happened. I had a small tear in my calf muscle just six weeks before the race, so I ended up resting most of the time before the race. 

I already paid the money to run, so you better believe I was going to compete in the race. Five miles in I started to feel the heat and humidity of the summer morning. At seven miles I was overheated and had to fall back with slower runners. At ten miles I had to walk, I was barely surviving the run. Then at mile eleven my calf felt like it burst. I later found out that I had torn my calf muscle (soleus to be exact, the smaller calf muscle I didn’t realize I even had). I finished the race nearly an hour after my original pace, but I finished! The goal was to finish the race, so it was a success. Right? 

It took me nearly two years before I could run without pain and three years before I finished another half marathon. I crossed the finish line, but it came at an enormous cost. 

Finishing matters. How we finish matters more.

You can finish the race of being fully funded, but how you finish will determine the success and longevity of your ministry. Our goal isn’t to be fully funded for a moment, but to be fully funded for a lifetime! 

At least 40% of our day is determined by habits. In the book, The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg describes the importance of keystone habits which lead to a cascade of other actions. Simply put, there are things in your life that cause change in other areas of your life. An easy example is exercise — if you exercise then you most likely will not be as tempted to eat junk food or stay up late because your body needs good nutrition and rest to do it again. 

If we view support raising as a marathon, what are the keystone habits needed to be healthy?

I’m outlining the two areas I have identified and developed habits with support raising (and beyond). These are meant to spur on specific habits from your own creativity and personality.

Grace Grounding

When we are grounded by the grace of Jesus we walk with the Holy Spirit. Our friend John reminds us of this reality – “This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:10)

The closest I have come to knowing a modern day monk was with my friend and mentor, J.K. Jones. When he talked about his relationship with Jesus I felt like he had just finished sharing a coffee with Jesus. He was drenched in the love of Jesus. 

At the end of one particular semester of class J.K. shared that it was a difficult semester. His father had passed away earlier in the semester. The seminary class had no idea of his struggle because his teaching and care for our class was top notch. Instead of letting his pain seep out into his class preparation he consistently brought his brokenness to his tent of meeting with Jesus each morning. His consistent grace grounding allowed him to be consistent with his ministry, his class. J.K. created space for his brokenness, but it did not come at the cost of his ministry.

How are we consistently being grounded in the grace of Jesus?

Rich in Relationships

John continues, “…Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” (1 John 4:11)

My first ministry was in a small town in the midwest, it was a bit like Mayberry from the Andy Griffith show. Walking into the breakfast cafe you would find the tables of men drinking coffee for hours. When I joined in their routine they had been carrying this tradition on for years. This is the place they talk about grain prices, parenting, marriage, and of course local politics. 

A miracle happens with consistent relationships.

When my grandmother passed away I was at the visitation with my family. This was nearly three hours away from that local cafe. You know who walked through those doors? The men I spent hours with around coffee each morning. They didn’t have any profound words, but their presence shouted, “I love you.” 

When we are rich in relationships the invisible God becomes visible. 

How are we cultivating rich relationships in our lives?

There are several blueprints or plans available for executing a support raising strategy, but none of these matter if you do not have keystone habits in your life. Just like how you cannot cram a marathon without getting hurt, you cannot cram in support raising and be spiritually healthy for the long haul. 

Establish healthy habits that will sustain you for the long haul. You have more at stake than a torn calf muscle!

Thanks for joining me on this journey… much love.


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