The marathon was instituted as a commemoration of a fabled run by a Greek soldier who ran to Athens from the Battle of Marathon to share the good news of the victory, then according to legend, promptly collapsed and died. In truth, many pastors and church leaders can relate to the physical, mental, and emotional toll of metaphorical marathon of ministry leadership.
The Apostle Paul often used the metaphor of running to describe his ministry. He wrote about “running the race” and “finishing the course,” language any modern-day runner can understand. While not a universal metaphor, and with some ableist tendencies, in context, the language of running has continued to be utilized as a descriptor of ministry and specifically pastoral ministry, helping pastors better adapt to the rigors of church leadership.
While at times pastoral ministry can feel like a sprint, the pastoral leaders who are able to sustain and persist in ministry are adopt the patience and pacing of a marathon runner, understanding the race is long, there will be many struggles along the way, but with patience and perseverance, the race can be finished well.
In our conversation with Rev. Julian “J.Kwest” DeShazier, a pastor, runner, and former marathoner, we talk about our unique calls to ministry (and marathoning), the sacrifice of our families, the toll that it takes on our body, mind, and spirit, how to find balance in ministry (and running), and knowing when to quit.
As a national speaker, advocate and emcee, Julian “J.Kwest” DeShazier has appeared on ABC, FOX, NPR and Dr. Maya Angelou’s “Oprah & Friends” radio program. J.Kwest (jay-quest) is also an Emmy Award-winning musician. The Chicago native and graduate of Morehouse College and the University of Chicago is also pastor of University Church. DeShazier is associate director of the Office of Experiential Education at McCormick Theological Seminary and is a Leadership Greater Chicago fellow.