This past weekend I did something that I never thought I would do, nay, something that I promised myself I would never do. I went for a run.
Now when I say, "I went for a run," what I really mean is that I attempted something that probably looked more like a 6th grade kid struggling to make it to the next theme park ride at Disney World after inhaling 10 churros and a slurpie. Yup, that was me. You may have noticed me as you drove by and your children in the back seat of your car started frantically screaming that there was a wounded sasquatch on the trail in the woods trying to run home. And to make matters worse, I tried to encourage myself with an age-old adage some grade-school teacher probably told me:
"It doesn't matter how you run, when you run, or where you run, just as long as you finish the race."
Really? Can I just say that is the dumbest saying I've ever heard. So let's just start running anywhere we want in any way we want and it's all good? How many people do you see running through the backyards of the Midwest flailing their arms as they try and finish the Boston Marathon? Answer: Not one soul.
You see, how you run matters, and it matters big. How you run reflects your preparation, it defines where you're going, and how quickly you are going to get there. Our lives are the same. We hope for Heaven as we run the race of life in the neighborhoods of Hell. As leaders, we hustle for the finish line of world-wide influence while allowing faithfulness to lap us as we settle into our lazy trot around the track. As I train and develop leaders of the next generation to run that race I find, again and again, that those who end up disqualified have ultimately disqualified themselves. They become experts on the goal, but they sorely lack the rigor of daily training because daily training doesn't translate well to social media; where tweeting their time with God is more important than actually spending time with God.
Again I say, "How you run matters," because for every person that slacks in the race that God lays before them, there's a person who is fighting for every single step and every single breath. They have trained, determined a route, and have fixed their eyes on the prize. These are the ones who cross one finish line only to eagerly look for the next one. The ones who aren't satisfied with yesterday's victories when tomorrow's promises are so much sweeter. The writer of Hebrews writes their anthem in this way:
Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. ~Hebrews 12.1-2
So I may not be Forrest Gump on a sugar-high after eating a box of chocolates before a track-meet. It's true. But one thing I will be is someone that our Father in the stands can be proud of and I will do my best to get better at it because the people watching aren't studying how I finish a race, they're studying how I run a race.