Sometimes it feels strange. I’m 37 years of age and I’ve been a pastor of the same church for 17 years. The question people ask me all the time is, “How do you stay in the race that long?” I tell them the answer is very simple: YOU COMMIT YOURSELF TO THE FINISH LINE. I made a decision when I was 20 that Los Angeles would be my city to pastor for life. I would give my life to this city and made a lifetime commitment. I know this seems rather odd to make such a declaration but early on, I realized that the only way to win the race is to commit yourself to the end long before you can see it.
There’s a certain kind of liberty when you know that you are not going anywhere that helps you endure hard times.
The liberty in making a commitment to the finish line is that when times get tough, you know that the pendulum will swing the other way. You are in the battle long enough to see that it will. Life suddenly becomes a marathon rather than a sprint. The joy of the marathon is the guarantee that things will go well with a consistent attitude. My life is not wrecked when I have a bad week because I’ve committed myself for life and therefore I know that good times are on the horizon as well. My grandpa used to say, “Hang around long enough and something good will happen to you.” This simple advice has allowed me to pursue long-term faithfulness rather than short-term gratification.
Many people think the Dream Center happened overnight. The reality is that it’s been a 17-year climb with a commitment made to the finish line from the very beginning. Wherever you are right now in your life, decide to commit yourself to the finish line even at the start of the race. This will allow you to stay encouraged and not panic over timetables because you have a lifetime to accomplish the lofty things God has placed in your heart. I know many people might not do the same thing forever but with every endeavor put roots down in the vision from the start and win the battle for commitment early on and walk it out with patience day by day.