PANAMA CITY, Fla. – As I crossed the finish line of the Ironman Florida triathlon, I was thinking about what I learned about racing and ministry. Any ministry is an endurance race, but this is especially true of bivocational pastors.
First, when you are participating in a long endurance race, physical or spiritual, preparation is paramount.
Photo by Jacob Watts
Pastor Tim Dowdy and son Micah celebrate after the Florida Ironman triathlon in Panama City, Fla.
Second, endurance is fueled by the encouragement of a team. You can probably endure the race by yourself, but it makes a huge difference to have people to encourage, inspire and motivate you along the way. In ministry, this is absolutely essential.
Third, I can’t overemphasize the importance of a healthy nutritional plan. This race is long, so the proper intake of fuel (food/drink) is essential to reaching the finish line. Spiritually speaking, there’s a great correlation. You’re not going to have the strength to do what God has called you to do if you don’t have the right nutrition.
I also learned that you don’t run endurance races on feelings; you have to keep going whether you feel great or not. If you wait until you feel good to prepare for the race you will only train about one day a week. While I endured a race of 14-plus hours, bivocational pastors experience long days every day. For them it’s early mornings and late nights. It’s not about how you feel; it’s about what you’re called to.
I’m sure there are days many bivocational pastors are tired and just want to throw in the towel, but their calling and commitment inspires them through the day to keep running the gospel race until they cross the finish line.
What a privilege to have run in their honor! And it’s an even greater honor to serve alongside them as we penetrate lostness in North America!
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Georgia pastor Tim Dowdy reflects on the parallels between an Ironman triathlon and those who serve as bivocational pastors.)