So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord with a pure heart. (2 Timothy 2:22)
I’m prone to mediocrity. Looking back over the years, I realize that I have been often content with only giving half-hearted efforts in many areas of life. For example, in grade school, I quit both the violin and clarinet because I didn’t practice. In middle school, I did the bare minimum in collecting my paper route money from customers. In high school, I was satisfied with B’s and C’s. Today I realized that I’ve only been giving a mediocre effort in my physical fitness. Lately at the gym, I would only run on the treadmill for a few minutes and then walk the remaining time so I could read my Kindle. I have been satisfied that I “ran” but haven’t pushed myself to get into better shape. Mediocrity has also influenced my Christian walk and how I have “set the bar” for other men of God in disciple-making and mentoring relationships.
My good friend Jeremy described the current condition of the typical male superbly over at his blog Muffin-Tops and Green Tea a couple weeks ago. After reflecting on his post and looking at my life and ministry as described above, I believe a root cause is that as men, we have set the bar too low personally and with each other in our Christian walks. This needs to change.
The Apostle Paul compares the Christian life to an intense race, on par with an Olympic competition- “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27). Paul didn’t say to aim for a participation ribbon…..he said run to win by putting forth all the effort and concentration required! We must have the same mindset in the Christian life, but we can’t do it alone.
Consider Paul’s words to Timothy: “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord with a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22). The pursuit of righteousness, faith, love, and peace is best done with other Christians pursuing the same goal.
I’m not an athlete, but I know it is essential for teammates to challenge and encourage one another toward greater performance. As Christ-followers, and specifically as men, we need to do the same as we challenge and encourage each other to deeper holiness and greater obedience in our Christian lives. We need to raise the bar and challenge each other to win the race- not just complete it. Mediocrity is not a biblical option for the men of God! I love the following scene from the movie Facing the Giants. Imagine what the church would look like if men would take the same approach with each other in following Jesus Christ.
I do not yet know how exactly this will look practically in my life and ministry, but I know that the bar has to be raised in the days ahead.
Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.