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Setting a Sustainable Pace…

How long can you sustain the pace at which you are living and leading? If you are sprinting through life, then probably not long. How often have I tried to run ahead of God—impress Him with my ability to “get His work done.” Funny when I think about it. I seriously doubt He’s ever been impressed. Pleased? I hope so. But I don’t think God has ever been wringing His hands in suspense, wondering if I was going to “come through” for Him.

Sustainable pace. Those you love and lead need you longer. They need your influence over years and decades—not weeks and months. The Apostle Paul finished his course. To do this, he was required to choose a pace that was sustainable to the end. Sleep. Eat. Live. Laugh. Work. Serve. Labor. Rest. Wait. He must have done enough of each… because he finished His course.

You’ve heard it— “Pray like it’s all up to God. Work like it’s all up to you.” Sounds nice, but bad advice. If you live or work like it’s all up to you—you won’t be able to sustain your pace. Work hard. We all should. But “work like it’s all up to you?” No. You’ll hurt  yourself and others, and God won’t be impressed. Pray and work like it’s all up to God.

Let’s talk about sustainable pace…

Sustainable pace is a product of realism—realizing, accepting, and acknowledging my limitations and weakness. Understanding that I am a finite resource—I can’t be all, do all, know all for everyone. Only God can do that.

Sustainable pace is a product of Lordship—serving under the headship of the right entity. Who is your Lord? You? Your employer? Your associations? Your ego? All the people you’re trying to please? Jesus is the only one who makes a reasonable Lord.

Sustainable pace is a product of humility—letting go of my need to be important, feel busy, in demand, validated by urgency, showing others my significance. All of this boils down to pride and ego that must be broken before God.

Sustainable pace is a product of faith—grasping God’s limitless-ness and truly trusting Him not me. I am nothing, He is everything. He doesn’t need my effort. He’s done pretty well without me for a pretty long time. If anything is going to happen, it won’t be because of me—it’s all because of Him.

Sustainable pace is a product of dependence—remembering “without me ye can do nothing” and abandoning myself to Him, upon Him, in total reliance. Rather than burn myself out, neglect my family, hurt my relationships, and destroy myself—“God, I ask you to take what little I can reasonably do and use it, expand it by your power and grace.”

Sustainable pace is a product of vision—long-term perspective. Am I willing to take longer to get someplace if God is saying “wait, be patient, rest…”? Am I willing to see His bigger picture and wait on Him to realize it? Am I willing to say “no” to opportunities I would like to accept? If God isn’t holding a gun to my head, why would I let someone else? Why would I hold the gun to my own head?

Sustainable pace is a product of wisdom—stewarding time, energy, resources, opportunities with balance. Making right choices in the moment—apart from trying to impress someone or trying to meet my own needs. Wisdom does the right thing, the best thing, regardless of possible short-cuts or potential for immediate gratification. Wisdom can wait to arrive at a destination in God’s time and at God’s pace.

Sustainable pace is a product of surrender—giving over my dreams, my script, my presumptions of what I want to do “for God.” What if God doesn’t want me to do, be, accomplish what “I want to for Him?” What if God has another deployment or appropriation for my life entirely? What if I’m running hard down the wrong road? Surrender seizes God’s hand—doesn’t run ahead or behind Him. Surrender lets Him set the pace and the agenda. He will never push you beyond your limits in His grace.

Sustainable pace is a product of prayer—acknowledging that it’s all His, it’s all up to Him, and placing it all back into His hands through consistent intercession. This sort of prayerfulness acknowledges His providence and rests in Him. It makes my heart intentional in patience and endurance. It brings the “peace of God” about whatever pace He ordains.

Sustainable pace is a product of joy—releasing the burden and enjoying the journey. Tension, frustration, anxiety, despair, worry—these are all a product of trying to do it my way, fast… fixing things NOW, being where I want to be as quickly as I can. Releasing all of that to God allows me to have joy. Every day, in a thousand ways, circumstances scream at me to be anxious. Things I cannot control, circumstances I cannot manipulate. I wasn’t made to control them. I was made to rest in Him and find joy in His grace.

Too soon, my vapor will vanish. Earth and it’s inhabitants will quickly forget that I was ever here. (Same for you.) Morbid thought? No, not really… just true.

That being so, how I long to walk through this brief planetary visit with joy, wisdom, and faithfulness. How I long to have a pace that is sustainable for the duration of my race. I can’t please everyone—but I can please Him. I can’t do it all. But the little I can do, I desire to do well—loving Jesus, loving those He’s given to me, and investing my vapor in ways to help others enjoy theirs.

Who’s holding the gun to your head. Stop. Step back. Catch your breath. Take a fresh look. You’re not going to be around forever. You get one shot. Set pace with God. His pace is the only sustainable pace.

Ecclesiastes 7:16-17 “16 Be not righteous over much; neither make thyself over wise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself? 17 Be not over much wicked, neither be thou foolish: why shouldest thou die before thy time?”

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3 Comments

  • Another great lesson with a truly balanced, realistic, biblical perspective. It seems like I constantly need reminding that this is the Lord’s work and not my own. Humility, surrender, and faith seem like constant battles and so difficult to maintain. Does it get any easier? Thanks for sharing!

  • Great read. Was just reading in Luke about The Lord and his disciples – after teaching a great crowd of people who where following Him – The Lord choose to leave and go fishing with a few guys. This says a lot about sustainability.

  • Common preacher questions like “What if you knew Christ was coming back tomorrow?” or “What if you knew this was your last week on earth?” often destroy that sustainable pace. Instead we’re driven to concentrate all the energy of the rest of our lives into a short sprint. But we are running a marathon.

    Thank you so much for reminding us to stay reasonable so that we can remain effective.


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