By Ryan Rice, Sr.
I started running track when I was eight years old. Like every kid, I wanted to be the fastest on the team. I enjoyed track and field, so I continued to run through elementary and high school.
However, the older I got the slower I seemed to become. Well, it wasn’t that I was getting slower, but I wasn’t as naturally fast as many of the other guys on my team.
While I wasn’t the fastest, I was working the hardest and developing what any great track and field athlete needs, endurance. This caused me to be named one of the captains of my high school team and a letterman as well. I realized, to become the best athlete was to train well and endure.
LIE: You have to do it…now.
Church planting takes that type of endurance as well. Sadly, because of our social media and microwave culture, many planters believe the lie, “You have to accomplish everything in one day, one service, or one year.”
We become like the married couple who desires all the things their parents took 30 years to accomplish. We have to be okay where God has us, even if that place is a small gathering on a Sunday morning.
Many church planters have an entrepreneurial skill set that enables them to leave their jobs or church positions to begin a new work for the Lord. However, this same character quality if not placed under the power of the Gospel can lead more to burn out than a flourish for the Glory of God.
In 2014, my family and I left our home in Baton Rouge and moved back to my hometown of New Orleans to plant a new church. Our core team consisted of my family and one additional person. During those early stages, we held on to God calling us to the city, and the command to make disciples.
After several months our team grew, people came to faith in Christ, and we began gathering weekly as a newly formed church. However, after about two years in, I was ready to bow out of the race.
It was as if each day I was trying to accomplish what takes years to happen. In fact, every day I would come up short. I couldn’t meet enough people, share the Gospel enough, or shake enough hands. Each day left me as unsatisfied as the next.
My motivation to glorify Christ became replaced with one goal, and that was not to fail. Fear became the driving force in my life and ministry. The fear of letting my church partners down. Fearing people thinking I was lazy if I took a day off. The fear of missing out on connecting with my community left me saying yes and attending more engagements than I should. This thinking drove me to work non stop.
LIE: You have to do it…all.
God’s grace sent a wise pastor my way who asked me a very poignant question.
“Who told you that you had to do it all?”
Well, I didn’t have an answer to that question. One thing I knew for sure, Jesus didn’t tell me to do it all. If I am honest, my trust became more in my ability than His strength and power.
Church planter or pastor, what about you? “Who told you that you must do it all?”
Paul Tripp, in Dangerous Calling, writes, “You are constantly preaching to yourself some kind of gospel. You preach to yourself an anti-gospel of your own righteousness, power, and wisdom, or you preach to yourself the true gospel of deep spiritual need and sufficient grace.”
TRUTH: You need Jesus.
The message we are preaching from the pulpit each week must be the same one we live daily. We are in desperate need of a Savior, His strength, and power. In fact, Jesus gives us divine grace for the task to which He calls us.
In our very weakness, we find strength. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness. Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me.”
When was the last time you boasted in your weakness? In this journey of church planting, I have come to realize God hasn’t called me to sprint, but endure. His desire is not for us to grind it out in our strength, but to rely on His.
If you have lost your joy in the race God has called you to, there is sufficient grace to endure. Reject the lie that it is all about you, your strength, and your ability. Instead, accept His grace that empowers you to do what He has called you to.
RYAN RICE, SR. (@ryanricesr) is the husband of Seané, father of Ryan, Jr., Brayden, Reagen, & Bailey, and has been in ministry since 2007. He is currently the lead pastor of Connect Church of Algiers in New Orleans, Lousiana, which they planted in 2014.