In spite of his shocking loss at the French Open on Sunday, Rafael Nadal has taught me something about ministry.
I’m not even a great fan, but I’ve learned something nonetheless.
Early in a match — especially on clay — Nadal will extend a point he could win earlier. In other words, he will refrain from winning a point easily (say on the first or second shot) in order to keep the ball in play longer, thereby making his opponent run farther and hit more shots. Whether Nadal wins the point at this stage is secondary. Making his opponent expend more energy is primary.
So by the end of the match — after a couple hours of long points spent returning high-bouncing topspin shots — the opponent is exhausted. Physically and mentally.
So Nadal will go through short term loss in exchange for long term victory.
By the way, this way of playing tennis is totally foreign to my background of serve, volley, smash, go to the next point. That’s why Nadal at 22 is just now teaching it to me at 47.
Short term pain. Long term gain.
Ministry is full of decisions which in the moment are painful and traumatic. There is often a temporary loss of morale and membership.
But many of those decisions will bear healthy fruit in six months, 18 months, three years. The kind of fruit that would have been impossible without the earlier pain.
You may be in the middle of one of those seasons of self-inflicted pain in the ministry. As long as you’re making decisions with kingdom principles in mind, just keep hitting the ball with all that topspin.
The long term victory will be yours.