I began training last week for another half-marathon (last year’s full marathon was special, but I’m going to keep it sane this year). As I laid out my training schedule, I’m trying to carve 20 minutes off of my best time. This will require a level of discipline that I’ve not achieved in my running experience.
I have experienced both extremes of discipline: the lack of it, and the overkill.
If I lack discipline in a particular area, it is usually because I have lost sight of what originally drove me to set a goal. Or worse yet, I may have never actually set my direction in one way or another, trying something out because someone else talked me into it. This usually results in having no routine, no purposeful planning, and no results.
When I am stuck at that point, my only recourse is to revisit the reasons and motives for my aspirations: Is this my dream? Or someone else’s? Do I own this goal? Should I own it? Is it worth what I’m giving?
If I am experiencing a struggle with laziness, or a lack of discipline, I ask these kinds of questions. I can only be passionate about a goal if I have taken ownership of it.
Once I take my pursuit personally, I may work so hard at it that I fall to the other extreme: turning a good ambition into a life-draining obsession.
Again, a prayerful search through the motives and desires of my heart usually will restore balance: Have I tied up my value and worth as a person somehow with this goal? Am I pouring an unbalanced amount of focus into this goal because I’m avoiding some other issues that need my direct attention?
Setting a goal to run a half-marathon is a good thing, as long as it is a part of an higher calling to care for my body as God’s temple. Doing it only because someone else wants me to, or because I can’t feel good about who I am without it, will leave me lacking the motivation and the meaning for my ambition.
In the same sense, a goal to read through the Bible in a year or practice daily prayer is a fine thing, as long as I don’t elevate that goal over its purpose: to know God. Setting goals of any kind is a good thing, if they are tied God’s purposes for my life.
In marathon training and in the journey with Christ, my pursuit must be an expression of what is inside. Otherwise I run aimlessly, disqualifying myself from the reward of the finish (1 Corinthians 9:26).
Here’s to the pursuit…