I am an avid wanna be runner. That means that I start running in hopes of being able to do a half marathon one day, get up to about three miles, and promptly don’t run again for several months so I have to start the process all over again.
A few weeks ago, my husband asked me to go run the bridge near our house with him and since I love spending time with him I agreed. Half of the bridge is uphill and it’s a little challenging for a wanna be runner like me, but I have enjoyed both the workout with my man, and pushing myself to go a little faster and further each week. I’m not gonna lie, my favorite part is when I get to the top and get to run downhill for a while. That is until I have to turn around and do it all over again!
Running the bridge is a lot like life in ministry. You have seasons that it may seem like you are running uphill. Those times can be difficult and force you to push yourself a little harder. There are also seasons that are easier, where you’re running downhill, coasting along with no problem. While the uphill seasons aren’t quite as enjoyable, they are necessary to get you to the point where you can hit your downhill stride.
I’ve learned 3 very important things during my bridge runs that we can apply to our lives.
1) Don’t compare yourself to others. In the time it takes me to run the bridge four times, my hubby can do it six times. He’s faster, better and has more endurance than I do. If I compare myself to him I fall short every single time. So I don’t. When he takes off faster, I just keep jogging along at my own pace. When he laps me I smile and wave and keep running. If I compared myself to him it would diminish the satisfaction I feel after achieving the goals I set for myself. The only person I compare myself to is me. I only try to beat my own time and distance, not his.
In ministry life, don’t compare yourself to others, just run your own race. God has called you for a unique purpose and if you are comparing yourself to someone who is faster better and has more endurance (‘cause there will always be someone!) it will diminish the joy you have in your own calling. Be content to run at the pace where God is leading you personally, and only compete with yourself to ensure that you are being the best you can be.
2) Don’t stop running. When I’m running in general, especially uphill, there are moments when I feel like I can’t keep going. I want to stop and walk for a minute to catch my breath. But if I do, I won’t be able to start again. I’ll keep finding reasons to stop. So I won’t let myself. Even when I’m running so slow that it would probably be faster to walk, I keep picking up one foot in front of the other and continuing on to my destination.
In ministry life, during those uphill, difficult times we might be tempted to quit, even if just for a moment. In those times we have to challenge ourselves to keep running, even if it’s at an agonizingly slow pace. We have to determine that we won’t stop just because it’s hard, we’re tired, or we’re weak. We have to continue to put one foot in front of the other and continue on the journey God has placed in front of us.
3) Focus on the Light Posts When I was at the bottom of the bridge getting ready to run up I looked at how far I had to go before I was able to run downhill. It was a little daunting. So I started counting the light posts along the way. Once I got to the spot where I only had 5 light posts to the top, I simply focused on making it to the next one. Each one I passed was a small little victory. I didn’t worry about how far away the top of the bridge was, but rather concentrated on just getting to the next pole. Before I knew it I was at the halfway point and could take it easy for a few minutes as I ran down the other side.
In life if you look at how far away the top of your hill is it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. Instead of focusing on how far you have to run, set little goals, light posts along the way, and simply concentrate on making it to the next one. In Hebrews 12:1-2 we are encouraged to 1…….run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.
Jesus is the best light post. When we keep our eyes on Him, He gives us the strength to make it to the top of the hill!
If you are in an uphill season right now, how are you ensuring that you make it to the top? If you are currently running downhill, what is one thing you learned on your last uphill run?