Run YOUR Race (Marathon Lessons pt. 5)

When I began this journey, my goal was to “finish a marathon.”  I didn’t have a goal to beat a certain race time or another racer.  I just wanted to finish!

What happened along the way is just part of human nature.  I joined Nike Plus and started comparing my average minutes/mile with others.  In the half marathon race I ran during my training, I sprinted the last mile – all in an effort to BEAT a woman across the finish line.  My focus shifted from trying to complete a goal to trying to WIN the race by beating the other racers.  I ended up paying a high price for it.  I inured myself in that half marathon as I tried to beat the woman across the finish line.

So, I had to come to my senses and get back to the actual reason I started the journey.  I had to shift my focus from trying to WIN and comparing myself to others to simply FINISHING the race and accomplishing the goal.

“And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” – Hebrews 12:1b

God has set a race before each of us.  He equips each of us differently in order to accomplish different objectives.  YOUR race may not be the same as MY race.  YOUR gifts and talents may not be exactly the same as MY gifts and talents.  God has called YOU to finish YOUR race – and ME to finish MY race.  Why, then, do we fall into the COMPARISON TRAP?

In life, we tend to compare with others.  “She’s skinnier than I am.”  “He has more friends on Facebook than I do.”  “They have more ministry opportunities than I have.”  We start comparing how we are doing with how others are doing.  We feel that we need to outperform other churches, other ministries, and other ministers.  This is NOT what God called us to do.

It makes little sense.  Think about it.  If I am out for a run and someone passes me, I have a tendency to feel like I am a loser and need to speed up.  In fact, I really don’t have all the facts about that other runner:

  • Where they are in their run – they may be just starting mile 1 and I am at mile 12 (therefore they have more energy)
  • Where they are in their training – I may be on week 1, and they are on week 22 (therefore they have more stamina)
  • What they are training for – I may be training for a marathon, and they are training for a 1K sprint
  • What else they have going on – they may be young and carefree while I have a family, job, and ministry that demands much of my time

All of those factors are completely unknown by me at the moment, so it would be totally silly for me to compare my speed against theirs at that particular moment.  But, we do that – in running, and in life.  It’s just as silly in either arena.

God has called you to be FAITHFUL to the calling He has put on your life.  When you stand before Him, He will not ask you, “Why didn’t you have as many kids in your ministry as the church down the street?”  He won’t ask you, “Why didn’t you write as many articles for magazines as that other Kids Pastor did?”  He won’t say, “I am so proud of you for beating all the other churches in Missions giving last year.”

Your goal – and mine – should be to one day be able to stand before our Creator and hear Him say simply, “Well done, my good and FAITHFUL servant.”  I want to hear my Lord say, “You did everything you could with everything I gave you.  You did it for the right reasons.  You didn’t get caught up in the comparison game.”

So, do that, Kidmin Leaders.  Run YOUR race!  Finish YOUR race!  It’s the only one God called you and equipped you to run!  Be FAITHFUL and make HIM proud!

RELATED POSTS:

Lessons From My Marathon Pt. 1

Lessons From My Marathon Pt. 2

Lessons From My Marathon Pt. 3

Lessons From My Marathon Pt. 4

 

There’s More Than One Way To Skin A Cat (Lessons from my marathon pt. 4)

When I set out to start training for my full marathon, I didn’t put a lot of thought into how I would train.  I simply jumped on runnersworld.com and downloaded the most commonly used training program.  It basically focused on running four times per week, slowly increasing total miles run each week.  It was a common method, so I assumed it would work best.

Well, it didn’t.  Each time I got to the 13-14 mile range in my training, I suffered from the I.T. Band injury I spoke about in my second blog post on this series.  I began to get very frustrated with this.  I talked to a friend of mine who had completed several marathons, and he suggested I look into Jeff Galloway‘s “run-walk-run” method.

This method is exactly what it sounds like.  You run for a minute, then walk for a minute, then run for a minute.  It seemed totally ludicrous to me.  I thought, “I will end up with a tremendously slow race time if I do that.  That’s dumb.”  One thing is for sure, what I was doing wasn’t working, so I tried it.

The amazing thing is, I actually had a FASTER time doing the run-walk-run method than when I just “gutted it up” and ran the whole thing.  In fact, during the “run” part of the run-walk-run, I was running at a pace that was 3 minutes per mile faster than my average time when I RAN the whole thing.  CRAZY!

LESSON #4 – “There’s More Than One Way To Skin A Cat!”

In other words, “be open to new ways of doing things.”  If only I would have taken the time to talk with my friend who had climbed this mountain before when I first began my training.  I might have saved the heartache of injury and being knocked out of my first marathon.  I might have achieved my goal a whole year prior to when I did.  Human nature is to assume that the most common way is the best way to do things.

Tried and true is never the only way to do anything and may not be the best way.  This includes in ministry.  With the technological and educational advances of the last decade, there are almost always better, faster, and easier ways to do things than there were even 6 months ago.  The problem is, often we get in our own way.  What we need to do is let go of our resistance to new, be willing to experiment with ways that may seem ludicrous to us at first.

What about you?  Are you resistant to ways of doing ministry that are different from what you are used to?  Do you find yourself scoffing at those who manage their time, organize their life, or train their team differently than you do?  What is an area in your life or ministry in which you need to “challenge the process” and try doing things differently for a while?  You never know – you may end up finding that it is more productive and efficient than what you are currently doing.

“If you do what you’ve always done, you will get what you’ve always gotten.”  – Mark Twain

Related Posts: 

Lessons From My Marathon – Pt. 1

Lessons From My Marathon – Pt. 2

Lessons From My Marathon – Pt. 3

Lesson From My Marathon Pt. 5

Think Small (Lessons from my marathon pt. 3)


Ever set a BIG goal?  If you are like me, you tend to choose HUGE goals that seem to overwhelm you.  Our tendency is to become emotionally overwhelmed by the audacity of the goal – sometimes resulting in abandoning the goal because “it is just too big.”

I was determined not to allow this to happen to me during my marathon training.  Keep in mind, I was trying to go from NOT running at all to running a marathon (26.2 miles) in only 6 months.  That’s pretty audacious!  So, I took an approach that translates very well into just about ANY goal.  Hopefully, you can use this method the next time you take on a massive goal!

LESSON #3 – THINK SMALL

I took my massive goal and broke it up into many small parts (smaller, achievable goals that led to the BIG goal).  I decided I would FIRST try to run a 5K.  So, I did the “Couch to 5K” training app.  It added just a little bit of distance every run.  I ran in my first 5K race at the end of that 8 weeks.  Then, I did a half marathon training, again adding a little bit of distance each time.  Ultimately, shifted into the full marathon training.

Even as I ran, I set small goals.  “OK, I am running to the end of the block.”  When I reached the end of the block, I said to myself, “OK, I running to that light pole up the road.”  When I reached the light pole, I picked another object up the road that was my “goal.”

Ultimately, I didn’t achieve ONE GIANT GOAL of running a marathon.  In reality, I achieved hundreds of mini goals.

You can take this approach in just about any area of your life:  reading, health, prayer, writing, Bible study, etc.  Simply begin to question what specific actions you need to take in order to achieve the long-term goal.  These specific actions will become your “mini goals,” which will make your ultimate goal measurable and achievable in the long-term.  (i.e. don’t decide to “write a novel”, make a decision to “write one page per day”)

As you begin to complete each action or “mini goal” on the journey towards your ultimate BIG goal, you will start to feel a sense of self-control that you may not have had before. It’s amazing how being able to check off a smaller target on your list will act as a positive reinforcement, which will in turn boost your self-esteem and encourage you to keep going!!!

So, what BIG goal have you avoided because it was just TOO BIG?  Try working backwards.  Write down the BIG GOAL, break it up into smaller goals (steps), and start working on STEP ONE.

Time to share.  What BIG goal have you put off?  What is ONE step you think you can do to get you moving in that direction?  Share in the comments section.  Let’s motivate each other!!

Related Posts:

Lessons From My Marathon Pt. 1

Lessons From My Marathon Pt. 2

Lessons From My Marathon Pt. 4

Lesson From My Marathon Pt. 5

“Don’t Quit!” (Lessons from my marathon pt. 2)

runner-quit

I began training for my marathon in March 2012.  I was growing stronger, getting faster, and covering greater distances.  I was feeling so “ready” that I decided to sign up for a Half Marathon a month and a half before my FULL Marathon was scheduled.  I was told to take it easy in this race, but of course I pushed myself further than I should have.  I ended up injured.

I injured what’s called the “I.T. Band,” a tendon that connects your hip and your knee.  It made it impossible to run over 4 miles without sudden, sharp pain.  I was told by a Doctor that the only way to heal this injury was…”Don’t run.”   That knocked me out of my marathon I had scheduled.  I was devastated.

I took a few months off of running and hit the gym, instead.  After 3 months off, I hit the road again.  I trained for the next 6 months for my second attempt at the full marathon.  Exactly three weeks prior to the race, I injured my I.T. Band AGAIN!!!  I had a lot of people telling me, “You just weren’t meant to run the full marathon.  You should just pull out of the race.  Call it quits!”

I will admit, I entertained the idea.  I thought of pulling out of the marathon, but I had trained too long and hard for this.  I took a couple of weeks off to rest the injury, but ran the race anyway.  I felt great for the first 8 miles.  Then, at mile 8, the I.T. Band injury flared up – big time!  I had to run the next 18 miles in severe pain.  But, I didn’t quit!  I crossed the finish line LONG after I had hoped to, but I DIDN’T QUIT!!  I am so glad I FINISHED!

LESSON #2 – “Don’t Quit!”

Often, we set goals in life and in ministry only to be met with major setbacks and disappointments.  It would be easy to listen to the voices in the crowd saying, “You probably just weren’t meant to achieve this goal.  You should probably think of a different goal.  Call it quits!”  DON’T YOU DO IT!  Keep pressing on!  Keep praying!  Keep relying on God!  Don’t QUIT!

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest IF WE DO NOT GIVE UP.”Galatians 6:9

What has God called you to do?  What obstacles have you already faced on your way to the goal?  Are there voices (whether others or even yourself) telling you to quit?  What are some things you do to “press on toward the goal to win the prize?”

“Don’t Quit” by Rev. E.L. Smallwood

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,

When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,

When the funds are low and the debts are high,

And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,

When care is pressing you down a bit-

Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.

 

Life is queer with its twists and turns,

As every one of us sometimes learns,

And many a fellow turns about

When he might have won had he stuck it out.

Don’t give up though the pace seems slow –

You may succeed with another blow.

 

Often the goal is nearer than

It seems to a faint and faltering man;

Often the struggler has given up

When he might have captured the victor’s cup;

And he learned too late when the night came down,

How close he was to the golden crown.

 

Success is failure turned inside out –

The silver tint in the clouds of doubt,

And you never can tell how close you are,

It might be near when it seems afar;

So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit –

It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.

Related Posts:

Lessons From My Marathon Pt. 1

Lessons From My Marathon Pt. 3

Lessons From My Marathon Pt. 4

Lesson From My Marathon Pt. 5

Lessons I Learned From My Marathon (pt. 1)

Marathon 2013

On November 2, 2013, I completed my first marathon – at the ripe old age of 40.  I definitely would not encourage anyone to wait until they are 40 to run their first, but I wouldn’t take anything away from my experience.  It was an experience that changed my life – both the race and the training I went through to get there.  I learned a lot of lessons through this marathon.

Over the next several blog posts, I would like to share with you some of those lessons.  I don’t expect most of you to ever actually run a marathon (although many of you probably have).  The lessons I learned are less about running – and more about life and leadership.  I hope to be able to share them with you in a way that helps you and inspires you.

LESSON #1 – Everything Is Better In Teams (never run alone)

When I decided that this marathon was something I really wanted to pursue, I was 39 years old.  I had always wanted to “run a marathon before I am 40.”  The problem was – I had never run more than a mile in my life.  In fact, I had never really exercised or worked out with any consistency in my entire life.  I was going to attempt something that was CRAZY!  To go from ZERO to 26.2 miles in less than 6 months.

I decided I wasn’t going to tell anyone that I was training.  I didn’t mention it to a soul (other than my wife).  There were several reasons why I made this decision, but the biggest reason was…

I have a few people in my life (I am sure you have them, too) who I knew would immediately begin to make fun and patronize me as soon as they found out.  They don’t mean to hurt, but they just have a natural tendency to pounce and say things like, “YOU?  A RUNNER? HA!”  They then proceed to remind you of all the things you have ever said or done that are the opposite of the big decision you have just made.  Not very motivating, is it?

I decided I didn’t want to give those folks any opportunity, so I kept my training to myself.  It was boring.  No one to celebrate with.  No one to collaborate with.  Boring and difficult.

After I ran my first 5K I decided I would “come out of the closet” as a “runner in training.”  Guess what?  The “naysayers” didn’t disappoint.  They had plenty to say, but I ignored them.  Instead, I connected with those who had climbed this mountain before.  I got in a group of guys who were excited about running and started training with them.  All the way through the difficult training process, we ran together, texted each other, encouraged each other, and several of us even ran in the same race together (see their pic below).

Marathon-Crew-small

I realize what a stupid mistake I made in the beginning.  I tried to handle this huge challenge on my own.  I didn’t want to hear from those who might make fun of my wanting to attempt something so huge, so I let that keep me from reaching out to those who WANTED to celebrate with me and help me.  There was nothing that could have compared to the feeling I had when I crossed the finish line with my family and friends cheering me on.

Often we make the same mistake in ministry.  We try to “go it alone.”  Sometimes it is to prove we can do it on our own.  Other times we try to do ministry alone because we don’t want to share the spotlight.  Whatever the reason we make the mistake – it is still a mistake.  God created us for relationship.  He created us to “run the race” together.  If you find yourself “running” in isolation, it’s time to tear down the pride, buck up, and connect with others.

There are many that God has called and equipped to be on your ministry team.  They are waiting for you to connect with them, invite them to come alongside you, and run the race with you.  So, what are you waiting for?  Don’t run alone.  Everything is better in teams!

Related posts:

Lessons From My Marathon Pt. 2

Lessons From My Marathon Pt. 3

Lessons From My Marathon Pt. 4

Lesson From My Marathon Pt. 5