Leadership and La Vuelta
It’s been a while since my last cycling illustration and – I hear you cry – “how much longer must we wait before the next?”. Never fear, here we go. This last week saw the culmination of the third Grand Tour cycling race – La Vuelta (basically the tour of Spain). It’s one of the three-week mega-rides of which the Tour de France is the most famous.
Last week the Sky pro-cycling team had a really, really bad day. It’s unusual. They are normally all over the tactics and their policy of marginal gains (making leaps forward by taking lots of small steps) is well documented. Indeed, over the first week and a half of the tour, the Sky team made small improvements until they were looking like real contenders.
And then, in one day (in fact in a few short minutes) they blew it.
It was sad to see, but a sobering reflection of the reality of Christian ministry. Take leadership, for example. Church can really be a slog. We make very small gains, incremental really, which taken together – we hope and pray – lead to the glory of God. But as leaders we can have one bad day which blows it all.
Or let’s get more personal and think about battling sin. Many church leaders battle sexual sins – lust, pornography and so the list goes on. We battle day in, day out, making – it seems – very small gains. But one day can blow it all. That could be deadly to ministry.
What is the antidote? 1 Peter 5 is very helpful: “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” The antidote is fourfold:
- We must think of ourselves with sober judgement (Rom 12:3) taking care lest we fall. I need to keep reminding myself of my besetting sins and my inclination to them.
- We must be alert against our enemy. He is prowling around looking (let’s be honest) to devour YOU and we need to be aware of his wiles.
- We must exercise faith. Easy to write, hard to do, but in part at least this means feeding our souls with the means God has given us to deepen faith: prayer and the word.
- We must realise we are not alone. The family of believers around the world are sharing the same sufferings. In fact, working out sanctification in the community of believers is an essential step to fighting sin. “Confess your sins to one another.”
Then listen to God’s gracious word: “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.”