“But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31
As much as I enjoy running, I am not physically able to maintain a rigorous routine year round.  In fact, I am not able to maintain a rigorous routine day after day without some days off on a weekly basis.  And I find that the older I get, I need a few extra days off every now and then.  Rest and time off are an important component of a strong running program.

In August of each year, I begin working with my cross country team to get them ready for their fall season.  In reality, I start getting them ready to run in the State meet in November.  Runners can’t stay at the peak of their conditioning year round and hope to always run their personal best times.  Their bodies can’t take that kind of grueling routine day in and day out year after year.  The beginning of the season marks in increase in their training and, while they begin to race within a month of the start of training, everything is designed to allow them to peak three months later.  After the season ends, they are encouraged to take some time off and rest or change sports, but slowly over the winter, they begin to train again, trying to maintain much of the conditioning they gained over the fall.  By Spring, they increase their training maybe adding track to the routine. They go into the summer increasing just a bit more.  Ultimately, they are back at August and it is time to begin in earnest again for another three plus months.

In order for runners to be successful, they need to take time to rest both during the intense part of the racing season and in the off season.  This will enable them to find greater enjoyment in their sport and allow them to participate at a higher level.

Once again, ministry has parallels to this concept.  You are in your position to be effective and to do the best job of ministry personally possible.  You are not physically able to maintain a rigorous routine year round.  It is important to get some down time not only weekly, but  also in an off season.  Most people in ministry have very good work ethic, in fact, often too good.  Sometimes it seems we do not feel that we are truly working unless we are constantly doing ministry.

Consider some of the ideas presented in these Stride articles.  Constantly running at the same pace usually ends up being a disaster.  Possibly one of the greatest dangers though, is not resting and taking an off season.

As enjoyable as running is, it is not life in its entirety.  It is , for me, a very satisfying activity that God has blessed me with.  Ministry, also, is not life in its entirety.  It too should be a satisfying activity in which God has blessed you with being able to participate.  Approach it wisely so you can find your stride and be the most effective minister possible.