On Thanksgiving Day a few years ago, I ran a 10K race called the Turkey Stampede. I had my personal best time for a 10K at that race … 52:10. Not bad for me, but certainly not going to win first place. But, I did beat a man named Bart. I can tell you in six words how and why I was able to beat him to the finish. Are you ready? OK. Here it is: He didn’t know we were racing. There ya have it. A simple yet effective strategy that helped me beat the man, the myth, the legend … Bart.
Now, let me explain a couple of things about my ingenious strategy. First, I have no ill feelings toward Bart. No rivalry. No bad blood. I honestly have never talked to the man and didn’t even know his name until I saw the online results. But, with about 200 yards left in the race, I noticed this man (Bart) about 50 yards ahead of me. As soon as I saw him, the competitive voice inside of me said, “Beat that man!” So, from 200 yards out, the entire race was now between Bart and I. At that moment, I decided I was going to beat Bart to the finish, so I just took off. Determined to get to the finish before him, I sprinted as fast as I could. And, just before my very last hamstring snapped, I beat him to the finish. You can’t see Bart in the picture from the race above, but you can see the poor lady’s face over my left shoulder that I almost knocked over in pursuit of my victory! If you’re reading this … sorry, mam.
The online results of the Turkey Stampede say that I beat Bart by two whole seconds! The dude just didn’t stand a chance against my genetically engineered body and my blazing speed! And, oh yeah, he didn’t really know we were racing.
You see, with a 50 yard head start, Bart would have easily beat me to the finish if he understood that the race was now simply between the two of us. But, he didn’t. He had no clue. While he was simply trying to make it to the finish, I was trying to beat him to the finish and that gave me the advantage. I was intentional, deliberate, and calculated. I was a man with purpose. At the end of the race, I was determined to beat him and that gave me all the advantage I needed to raise my hand victoriously in a race the other guy never knew he was in.
I think the application of that story is this: Me WITH a goal will always have the advantage over me without a goal. Without a goal or a vision, I make the race a 100-meter-mosey instead of a 100-meter-dash. Without a goal or a vision, I’m not very focused. With one, I’m deliberate and intentional. Without a goal or a vision, I can easily let others dictate my pace or my schedule. With a clear vision, I begin to prioritize my time with what matters most.
I’m learning more and more about the importance of having a vision in ministry. Whatever your profession, having a clear vision for what you want to do is important. I really want to grow in that area. But, honestly, my most important goals have nothing to do with what I hope to accomplish in ministry. My most important goals revolve around who I want to be, or should I say, who Jesus has called me to be. Who I am will always show up in what I do (Stanley). So, I long to allow the grace of God to show up inside of me … shaping me, molding me and helping me “to lead a life worthy of my calling, for I have been called by God. I need the grace of God to help me be humble and gentle and to always seek to be patient with others, making allowance for other’s faults because of love.” (My personal paraphrase of Ephesians 4:1 – 3) If God wants me to be it, He will help me to do it.
It’s not that God isn’t concerned about what I’m doing. Our faith has to do some good around us! I just believe He’s more concerned with who I am becoming. The more I keep my eyes on Jesus, the less I see of me and the more I see you. Oh, God, help me to live that kind of life.
So, yes, set your “do” goals, but don’t do it at the expense of your “be” goals. God’s grace is up to the task of helping us live out His vision for our lives.