Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Rambling Route to Goals

Running has been a cathartic experience for me. I enjoy the time when my phone is nowhere near, my e-mail doesn't exist for a while and whatever I may have in my 'to read' pile is shoved aside. A great time to think and pray about what I've already read, experienced, and seen lately. It may sound odd, but for all the churning and puffing that's going on physically, this is often a time for me to mentally "be still" and know God.

During the first mile today, this question kept coming to mind: Are you called to be a chaplain to church kids or an ambassador to the greater tribe of students that surrounds you? One of the greatest difficulties that I've seen youth ministers have is feeling called to one of these roles, but hired for the other. This may be a whole topic for another post, but the bottom line is that there are elements of both these roles that I need to embrace.

Another thought that struck me was just the thought of how my running time has become a meaningful prayer time. Before the specter of spiritual pride came up though, I heard this: "I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." As I thought about this verse, I wondered if my heart has been truly full of His word so much that its overflow keeps me from sin. It's so easy to neglect the Word of God - to skim, relying on recall of what I've previously read rather than asking for fresh revelation as I pore over what He has had to say...

Later in the run, I began to think of goals. Today's 7 miles brought me to just under 97 miles in the last 29 days. 29 days ago is when I signed on to a 100 miles in 30 days challenge. I'm going to make my goal. I like that. I remember when I first started playing soccer and read somewhere that a soccer player should be able to run continuously for 60 minutes. I thought that sounded crazy but figured lots of people played soccer, so lots of people must be able to do it. If lots of people can do it, surely I can do it, too. When I first started training for a marathon, some people saw it as further evidence of my lack of mental acuity. While they may be right, I was too stubborn or too stupid to know that 26.2 miles is too far - so... I finished a marathon. The funny thing about goals is, you can achieve a lot - if you'll forget what you can't do.

I don't like to come up short in anything I attempt - it feels like failure. I don't want to fail. Sometimes that keeps me from setting clear goals, but this running experiment has showed me how I need to do better at that. Maybe it's the 'bucket list' phenomena, but over the past several months I've seen a number of leaders sharing about life-goals. A list of "100 things to do before I die" or a "40x40" (40 things to do before I turn 40)...

As I thought about it, here are some random goals I've had throughout my life: (due to the contemporaneous activity, there may have been a slight running slant to the list)

-Graduate HS with 4.0. I figured a college degree was a college degree regardless of GPA, but in HS I wanted to make sure to get the 4.0.

-Run a marathon. completed and amended

-Run a marathon in under four and a half hours. Hopefully this May.

-Stay married until 1 of us dies. Still in progress - and loving it.

-Run a six minute mile again. This is where being specific... hurts (and may not be medically wise).

-Send my 4 kids into adulthood knowing fully that they are loved - by God and by their parents.

-Visit every inhabitable continent (Antarctica can take a pass.) 4 out of 6, so far with Africa and Australia to go.

-Take LuAnn to see some of the places in Germany that I visited in HS.

-Hear "Well done - good and faithful servant."

-Graduate students every year who are intent on taking life to the dying and who refuse to settle for a normal life.

-Finish my Master's degree. This may not be so much a goal, as it's just that I'm a nerd and like being in class.

-Write something worth publishing. 1 magazine article so far, but this is more of an ongoing thing (though set aside lately) than a one time shot.

-Have a book published. Currently working on something that would be more of a self-published thing for our youth ministry team here, but it could develop into something more...

Well, those are some of my goals. What are yours? And how can I help you reach them? (That's another one of mine.)

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