Are you running to win?

A gentle breeze brought relief from the sun as the occasional cloud sauntered across the bright blue sky. Birdsong and the buzz of conversation carried over the neatly mown grass. It was the perfect summer afternoon.

Anticipation was building. The runners were called to order. An expectant hush fell upon the spectators.

“On your marks! Get set! Peeeeeeeep!” The whistle’s shrill call pierced the stillness. The crowd erupted. Supportive cheers rang out, urging the competitors onwards toward the finish line.

Crowd of supporters

Yet half the athletes seemed lost, unsure of what they were doing, or where they were going. Perhaps they were overwhelmed by the magnitude of the occasion… or perhaps it was because they were just five years old and this was their first ever school sports day. The race nearly didn’t end as the youngsters all stopped short, not wanting to run through the finishing tape.

At the breakfast table that morning I’d given the boys a pep talk. “Keep your eyes straight ahead. Don’t worry about anyone else; look at the finish line and keep running full speed until you’ve crossed the line.”

As the older classes each took their turn on the track it became apparent my exhortations had been in vain. Now watching the track-side spectators, then the starter. Now turning back to see how a friend was faring in the race. Their eyes seemed to be everywhere apart from the finishing line. Crossing the line, the looks of surprise and disappointment made it clear, “I thought I was going to win.”

There could only be one winner. Distractions were everywhere. All but a handful of the athletes lacked one important skill; focus.

How often do we treat life like a slightly bewildered 5-year-old that’s had no preparation for their race? Lacking focus we jog along in the company of our friends. Never excelling, yet often wishing we’d done better.

What’s your dream for your marriage and family? How about your work or spiritual life? If your prayers were answered, what would it look like?

Are you focused on your aims or are you just jogging along with the delusion of winning the race? If you want to win it’s going to take effort. But not just effort – you need to focus you effort in the right direction; on achieving the goal.

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