by Becky Ahlberg
For those who aspire to leadership in the church an important reality must be faced: The Christian life is not for sissies! Few lifestyles require more of a person than aspiring to follow Christ—and to lead his people. The cost of discipleship is high and never ending. Our passage today includes words like training, labor, strive, example, devote, diligent, and persevere. Sounds grueling, doesn’t it?
A Painful Realization
I remember turning 40 and really confronting this concept. When I was young I thought people who were 40—especially leaders—had arrived . . . had their career, their family, their act together. But the cruel reality of that birthday was the realization that not only was I not finished getting my act together, it was going to take me the rest of my life! I still felt immature, inadequate, unfinished. However, I found encouragement in a wonderful passage of Scripture that came to life for me in that painful realization: “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect . . . . But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:10-14). We press on. It’s a hallmark of maturity, and yes, leadership.
The Ultimate Prize
Paul’s admonition to Timothy here was not given to discourage him; it was given to encourage him in the arduous task ahead. Leadership is not a destination; it is a process that requires a whole lifetime. The good news is that faithful leaders continue to improve in wisdom and effectiveness if they stay the course and give their undivided attention to becoming like Christ. And what comes at the end of all that training, laboring, striving, exampling, devoting, diligence, and perseverance? We win the prize!
Becky Ahlberg is the Worship minister at Anaheim First Christian Church in Annaheim, California. She and her husband live in Fullerton California with their children.