I enjoy distance running and used to frequently participate in local race events. Once while I was talking with a beginning runner, he admitted, “Sometimes when I’m running in a race, I just want to stop and quit right in the middle.” Then, he asked me, “Do you ever feel that way?”
I chuckled and said, “Every race I’ve ever run I’ve felt that way!” I continued, “I just have to tell myself to keep putting one foot in front of the other, and I know that eventually I’ll make it to the finish line.”
Life can feel the same way. At times, we’re tempted to quit when we’re going after a worthwhile goal, because the process is often difficult and sometimes even painful. But the key is to keep going in spite of the obstacles. Just like in a race, we must keep putting one foot in front of the other.
This is one trait that really sets leaders apart from others. Everybody encounters challenges, but leaders keep going and help others to do the same. No matter the obstacle, they keep moving forward. That’s called perseverance.
The apostle Paul compared life to a race and declared, “I press on that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me” (Philippians 3:12, NKJV). His words paint the picture of a runner pushing with all his energy and reaching forward with all his might toward the finish line. He reiterated, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).
You see, a big part of victory in life is achieved by simply choosing not to stop. That’s why we must keep pressing forward. We must not give up or give in!
Now, there are so many obstacles a leader can encounter, I won’t even try to address them all here. But I’d like to focus on getting over a certain type of obstacle that is often overlooked, and that is the barrier of personal mistakes.
Every human makes mistakes from time to time; in fact, we usually make them every day! Leaders are no exception. But if we want to continue to lead effectively, we must learn to properly address our mistakes in a way that keeps us moving forward.
There is an interesting account on the book of Nehemiah in which the nation of Israel, for the first time in a long while, gave attention to God’s laws for them. The people of Israel gathered together to listen to Ezra the scribe read from the Book of the Law. Suddenly, they realized the sins they had been committing, and “all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law” (Nehemiah 8:9).
However, Nehemiah the governor told them, “Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). You see, he realized that while it was good for them to acknowledge and confess their sins, they could not move past their mistakes if they dwelled on them. He knew they needed strength to move forward, and that strength would come through joy, not continued weeping.
The writer of Hebrews declared, “Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2). Notice that he encouraged us to look to Jesus, not to our sins! That’s the only way we can run with endurance. So, choose to move forward by letting go of past mistakes and focusing on Jesus!