Perhaps in honor of the French Open, I played tennis on a clay court yesterday.
Now, I hate clay. I have nightmares about matches that I played on clay.
It works against me on every level: because it slows the ball down on impact, it blunts the power of my serve (my best shot); because it is slippery, it makes my movement (already a weakness) even more awkward; and because it is green and grainy, it gets my socks dirty (and I value clean clothes).
But ultimately, clay favors patience, strategy, and endurance. Hard courts or grass courts (my two favorite) favor attack and assault.
Church work, I find, is more like clay court tennis. I believe effectiveness in ministry happens over the long haul. Decisions made now will reap benefits then. Despair that you deal with now will lead to euphoria then. So often it’s a matter of working on that sermon when you want to give up, making that visit when you want to go home, planning for what will happen next year as opposed to next week.
Maybe I should play more on clay after all.