On April 23, 1910 Theodore Roosevelt delivered a speech, “Citizenship in a Republic” at the Sorbonne in Paris, France. In a section of that speech, he spoke about what is affectionately known as “The Man in the Arena.”
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Are you in the arena? Now most of us would immediately say yes to this question because each and every day you feel you are in the fight for your life. However, the fight doesn’t determine your arena, but your purpose and calling do. John F Kennedy stated, “Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.”
Ultimately if you are going to fail, as Roosevelt suggested, then fail while daring greatly in the right arena. So, how do you know if you are in the right arena? Ask these questions:
1. What’s my purpose? Quite simply your purpose can be defined by being fully immersed in living life to its fullest. I evaluate my purpose in the roles I play. For example, I am a husband and father. I am Director of Monadnock Ministries. I am also a Christ Follower. These are my primary arenas. Each of them impact the other.
2. To what end? At what point in the pursuit of my purpose have I achieved the end result? What do I hope to accomplish in each of these pursuits? We need to make sure the end goal is not centered on us, for we will miss GOD’S callings and purpose, in the midst of our marriage, family and overall relationships.
For example: Do you want to know why the evangelical church overall is declining? I believe we have forgotten how important discipleship and mentoring is. In many churches the preaching and programs have taken precedent, and therefore we’ve lost touch with the very people we were supposed to be training and discipling. There is no sustainability when it’s about us. It dies with me but lives in us. It’s that same concept with family and relationships.
3. At what cost? This is one of the hardest things to determine in life. Am I fully surrendered to my purpose? I can tell you that the pursuit of my vocation can just be as damaging to my marriage and kids as a drug addiction. Jesus tells us to count the cost. “For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’” (Luke 14:28-30)
Counting the Cost
We have been asking ourselves the same questions here at Monadnock Ministries.
What is our purpose? To inspire and equip those we serve (campers and their families, churches and their leaders) in New England and around the world in the pursuit of a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.
To what end? Ultimately our end purpose here at MBC is to glorify God. We do that by creating a safe place where your story collides with Christ’s story.
At what cost? We want to build programs and create experiences that ultimately fuel a re-awakening here in New England. The cost? Our ability to be fully surrendered by listening to God and those we serve.
Is your face marred by dust, sweat and blood in the arenas God has asked you to enter? If so, embrace who He has called you to be for His Glory and Honor.
“See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I am commanding you today, by loving the Lord your God, walking in his ways, and observing his commandments, decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live and become numerous, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to possess.” (Deuteronomy 30:15-16)