Jason Hodges is always looking forward to the next challenge in life.
After pulling off his excruciating One More challenge in October, when he completed six consecutive Ironman triathlons (843.6 miles) across six New England states within six days, Hodges doesn’t appear to be slowing down in his desire to push his physical limits — and encourage pastors and ministry leaders along the way.
“I think everyone needs something hard in their lives to teach them and challenge them,” Hodges told The Baptist Paper.
He reflected on his push to “leverage” every bit of himself for God’s glory and to encourage ministry leaders to persevere through “taking one more step.”
In addition to his church planting leadership role in New England for the North American Mission Board, Hodges is in the middle of a variety of ministry projects.
These projects include launching a nonprofit to offer retreats, counseling and other resources to help leaders lead well; working on a short documentary about enduring difficult seasons of life; finishing a book project; and organizing two back-to-back retreats for ministry leaders in February on perseverance in ministry.
Lessons from the edge
“To say it was difficult is an understatement,” Hodges recalled in a social media post following his Oct. 1 finish in Rutland, Vermont.
Obstacles along the way included becoming dehydrated, grinding through a fever, overcoming excruciating sharp pains in his stomach and being so tired he could barely stay up on his bike.
“I’ve never done something so challenging in my entire 41 years of existence,” he added, “and I most definitely could not have done it without our incredible team. But my ultimate goal was to encourage and inspire leaders to never give up and to give God their very best.”
In addition to his wife, Hodges had a team of at least nine people who helped him navigate his grueling week-long schedule. Each day included an Ironman triathlon challenge: 2.4 mile-swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2 run. The team included Hodges’ coach, James “The Iron Cowboy” Lawrence, who in 2015 completed 50 Ironman races, in 50 days and in 50 states.
‘What matters is that you finish’
One of the lessons Hodges shared on social media was about finishing what you started — even when life doesn’t live up to your expectations.
“The finish line always looks different than what you think it’s going to look like,” he said.
“I don’t know what journey you’re on,” he added, “but I know no matter how well you dream, no matter how well you plan, no matter how well you execute, the journey is different and so is the finish line.”
He noted, “But let me just tell you this … it doesn’t matter what the finish line looks like, smells like. … What matters is that you finish.”
With his latest physical challenge behind him, Hodges said he’s not ruling out another one — he just doesn’t know what it will be yet.
When it comes to either completing endurance challenges or obstacles in life, Hodges said he’s learned from his coach that there is always “another taller mountain to climb.” “Be it family work, ministry … you never arrive. You’re always a work in progress.”
For more information about leadership retreats and other details about his ministry, contact Hodges at firstname.lastname@example.org.