Setting and maintaining the right pace is critical to your spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and physical health. In this episode we discuss running at a healthy pace. Look around. Re-set your pace. Look at the distance. Look at the season. Take a moment to consider the strategy of your pace. 

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Living and Leading at a Healthy Pace for the Long Distance

We’ve been running harder than we have in a long time. A few weeks ago, as I was driving to West Virginia and Donna was driving to Illinois, I left her with both of us exhausted and a bit frayed. I’ve learned this lesson over, and over, and over, and over, and over again over my decades of life and ministry, and it seemed I was positioned to learn it one more time… pace is important. 

As I drove, somewhere in northern West Virginia I came to grips with the need to recalibrate, something we talk about a lot, and something we must constantly practice. I have hammered spiritual leaders for years about the non-negotiable necessity of taking on day off every week—I mean, I’ve been downright forceful about it when talking to colleagues, and yet, here we were, into our 3rd week without a day off. 


Because we are on a mission, because there is an urgency to engage that mission, because there are so many people to follow up with, there is so much work to be done. Add to that, we are emotionally and spiritual driven by this mission. It is more than important, it is critical. 

As I drove I recommitted myself to the basics of rest, of pace, of working really hard when I am supposed to be working, and resting intentionally when we are supposed to be resting. 

We seek to be transparent, and we are not doing the greatest with this right now. But we are committed!

This topic of “PACE” has been in moving through the recesses of my mind for a few weeks now, so today, we take on a topic that we know a lot about, we sometimes do a really good job with, and we sometimes don’t manage so well… pace. 

Setting and maintaining the right pace is critical to your spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and physical health. 

Pace in not arbitrary or emotional, it is strategic.

When I get fired up and emotional about something I want to run. When I get a direction I believe is from God I want to literally start running. 

I make leather journals. Last week we made about 20 journals to give to partners and perhaps to sell to raise funds for the mission. I had the time blocked to work on the journals, but it has been a long winter and my workspaces were cluttered from inattention. I wanted to just throw the sheet of leather on the table and start cutting, doing the fun stuff, getting on with the project, BUT I had to first prepare the space. I spent a couple of hours organizing my tools, preparing the space, lining up the materials. I did not want to do any of those things, I wanted to make journals, but before I could “run” I had to prepare. 

I’ve never run a marathon, but I’ve run many miles, and in my first 10k I remember the excitement of the starting line. Moving with hundreds of people toward the start line the adrenaline starts to pump. You feel a part of something big, you are ready to take on the world, let alone the 10k, you look good in your running gear, you feel good, the fresh morning air is crips and exhilarating. Then you get to the start line and you have to keep pace in mind. 

It is common. Here I am running and a reasonable pace and people who look out of shape are passing me. And I smile. I will finish before them, I know it. I watch them run out of sight. And then at about 2k I see them again. Dying. 

I do it too, all the time. I am emotional and I break past the starting line and run. 

Organizations do this too. Sometimes, teams do this. Scorched earth. Take no survivors. Leave everything on the track. Leaving everything on the track is admirable when the whole race is taken into consideration. Leaving everything on the track in the first 2k with 8k to go is… dumb. It is not strategic. It is not even spiritual. 

Look at the race. Look at what God is saying. Look at what you understand must be accomplished. 

Consider the long-play. 

Pace involves strategic conservation of energy, strategic expenditure of energy, and strategic replenishment of energy. 

We have to rest, we have to run, we have to replenish. God’s simple plan for pace is for us to run hard for 6 days and completely zone down 1 day every week. 

A marathon runner is very strategic about their pace. When you lay plans for your mission, you have to strategically determine the pace. 

Pace directs our energy (spirit, soul, body) to where it is needed most.

Have you ever started a project and never got to the project because you wore yourself out preparing to do the project. It is almost comical, but we do it too often. 

Consider this, I have been part of teams before that put so much effort in preparation that when they got to the event they were not effective relationally with the people because they were on edge and exhausted. This is not pace. 

Conversely, I have been guilty of running without preparation. Sometimes (and this is a critical point), often, usually… always… we must direct energy to spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and physical preparation before we can run. 

Some of our energy goes to preparation (both immediate and long term). Some of our energy goes to our emotional and spiritual well being. Some of our energy goes to execution. If you put all of your energy in just one of those baskets… yeah… it will be a long-play fail. 

Pace gives attention to proper preparation. 

Pace gives attention to proper execution. 

Pace gives attention to being and staying healthy because we are in this for the long-play. 

Sometimes we put an inordinate amount of focus into one of those three areas because it is the time and the season to do so. 

Energy is a renewable resource, but it is limited in its immediate availability. Energy does not stretch. 

Think of your phone. The battery only has so much energy. When you need the phone for critical function and the battery starts getting low, you start managing the energy. You disable non critical functions. You turn off Bluetooth. You dim the screen. And it really feels good when you can finally plug the phone in and recharge it. Because when that little icon says 100% then you can fire up all of the functions. 

Pace must be varied to stay fresh and focused.

A healthy pace changes up. We don’t pick a speed and just stay at that speed all the time. We speed up, we slow down, we recharge. 

Pace is corporate as well as individual. We run hard some seasons and recharge other seasons. 

Consider this, changing up your pace appropriately will bring new ideas, new possibilities, and new revelation that would not have come if you were just grooved in on auto pilot running for the finish line. 

Intentionally change your pace. Change things up. Often, that’s where awesomeness happens.

Pace must adjust to the circumstance and the season.

Okay… reality check. I am moving toward 6 decades of life. I am in a different season. I have to set a different pace. I don’t have to run as fast as I used to, because, I can run a lot smarter and a lot more effectively than I used to. 

I need to get it through my thick skull… I. Do. Not. Have. To. Run. As. Fast. As I used to! I run better, not faster. This is my season. 

I visited with a young missionary couple last night. They have a small baby. They have to run different in this season, but it is a season. Seasons come and go and they must be minded. 

Set your pace according to your season. 

Set the pace of the ministry, mission, or organization you lead according to the season. Set the pace of your great adventure according to your season. 

Pace factors in the long-play. 

Our mission, the part of it that plays out in Africa, is a long-play. We will not do what we do and see everything fall into place immediately. We are interfacing with hundreds of team-members, we seek to participate in the transformation of a continent with a billion people on it. Our mission is focused, it is specific, it is important, it is critical, and it will take a long-play investment for a legacy to be left behind. 

We estimate that this mission will take 10 years to come to a place of long-term effect and integration. 

What about your mission? How long will it take to see the things in your heart? Have you considered your pace?

Will your pace get you to the end, or will it fry you and disable you before you get a third of the way in? 


We are experienced journeyers. We are seasoned. We are wise. We are prepared. And yet, we still have to battle the pace. The pace keeps getting off. Too fast. Too slow. Burning energy too fast. 

Setting and maintaining the right pace is critical to your spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and physical health. Look around. Re-set your pace. Look at the distance. Look at the season. Take a moment to consider the strategy of your pace. 

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