Everyone has a unique journey to their destination. 3 John 2 says, “Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.” The original language definition for prosper is “to succeed on your journey”.
We have seen on TV or maybe in our own experience someone asking for directions and being told, “you can’t get there from here”. We laugh because we know that is never really true. They just mean it is a difficult or complicated journey ahead.
Proverbs says the path of the upright is a highway. I live near St. Louis, Missouri and the route to Kansas City is a straight shot on the highway. If my destination or destiny is Kansas City, I should stay on the highway. I have the option to get off onto a side road or unpaved road if I want to, but that makes my journey more difficult.
We have all done that in our lives. We may have gotten off course, and looked to see that we had taken a wrong turn. You can turn around (repent) and head back in the direction of your destination. Even if you added some wear and tear, you can get there from here.
In order to succeed on my journey there are several things I need to do. The first step is to determine my destination. Where am I headed? 2 Peter 1:10 says, “Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall”. If you don’t know where you are going, any way will do.
After you are headed in the right direction, you should make preparation for the journey as much as possible. Fill your tank with gas, check your tires, and evaluate your vehicle. In other words, count the cost. Do you have the resources to finish the journey, or as Jesus said, finish the tower? (Luke 14:28)
This is an honest evaluation of your resources. Have you made adequate preparations? Do you have the emotional reserves, physical energy, and commitment to finish the task? I once ran a 5K and thought that since it was only about three miles I didn’t need to train. Was I ever wrong! After running nearly a mile, I walked exhausted to the finish line. I had not counted the cost.
In leadership, this involves personal development and not just professional development. I have researched pastoral health and discovered that most problems pastors encounter are personal rather than professional. The training received to do the work is usually adequate, but what is often lacking is personal discipleship.
Most leaders don’t leave ministry and marriage because of big problems. It is usually just the last problem. The inability to process personal problems, and sometimes to flush out the accumulated emotional wounds is what usually leads to the phrase, “I just can’t take it anymore.” If you count the cost and find you are lacking in any area, address it. It will not fix itself. You cannot change a flat tire in traffic.
When we think about prosperity, our minds naturally go to money. Our journey does require money and that is fine, but don’t limit it to that. What tools do you need to succeed on your journey? Money, healthy relationships, wise counsel, as well as many other things. It is frustrating to look in your toolbox and not have the tool you need to finish the job.
Money is a tool, and it is important to remember that the product is always more important than the tool. If you get enamored with a new tool, it is easy to create an unnecessary job just to have fun using it. That can often happen if you take your eyes off of the destination.
When you go on a long journey, you need to schedule some lunch breaks and rest stops. God put a day of rest in the ten commandments because it is so important. The idea of sabbaths, vacations, and even sabbaticals is very important. If you drive when you are tired you may cause an accident. In the same way, you can make a bad decision and cause a crash if you are not properly rested. Schedule vacations on your calendar first. It requires a good deal of faith to rest if you are a workaholic. Truck drivers in America are required by law to travel for only a certain time then stop. Sometimes on your journey it is important to stop and take a nap.
Be ready for detours. Even if your journey is planned there is always a possibility of roadwork, or a flood to force you to take a detour or alternative route. Be flexible enough in your leadership to adapt to unforeseen changes or problems. It doesn’t stop you, but just requires flexibility.
Keep your eyes open for others who might need help along the way. How many times have you seen a lady trying to change a flat tire by herself alongside a highway? She can eventually do it, but I always think, what if that were my wife or daughter? You will finish stronger when you help someone else. As you learn and grow, help others learn and grow. When I ran the 5K, a friend who was an avid runner stayed with me to encourage me even though he could have easily left me in the dust.
It helps me to know God has a journey for me, and he will provide all the resources and tools I need to finish the race. Success on the journey can be evaluated by measuring your success to that of Bible characters who finished well and finished strong.
Jesus: “I brought glory to you here on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.” (John 17:4 NLT)
David: “….for after David had done the will of God in his own generation, he died and was buried with his ancestors, ….” (Acts 13:36)