Posts Tagged ‘persistence’

bigstockphoto_kids_running_on_track_7819021

“THE RACE”

by Dr. D.H. “Dee” Groberg 

“Quit!” “Give up!”  “You’re beaten!” They sometimes shout and plead.

“There’s just too much against you now, this time you can’t succeed.

And as I start to hang my head in front of failure’s face,

My downward fall is broken by the memory of a race,

And hope refills my weakened will as I recall the scene,

For just the thought of that short race rejuvenates my being.

A children’s race – young boys, young men – how I remember well.

Excitement some, but also fear, it wasn’t heard to tell.

They all lined up, so full of hope, each thought to win the race,

Or tie for first, or if not that, at least get second place.

And fathers watch from all the sides, each cheering for his son.

And each boy hoped to show his dad that he would be the one.

The whistle blew and off they went, young hearts and hope afire.

To win, to be the hero that was each young boy’s desire.

And one boy in particular, his dad was in the crowd,

Was running near the lead and thought “my dad will be so proud!”

But as he speeded down the field across a shallow dip,

The little boy who thought to win, lost his step and slipped.

Trying hard to catch himself, his hands flew out to brace,

And mid the laughter of the crowd, he fell flat on his face.

So down he fell and with him hope, he couldn’t win it now;

Embarrassed, sad, he only wished to disappear somehow.

But as he fell, his dad stood up and showed his anxious face,

Which to his boy so clearly said, “Get up and win the race!”

He quickly rose, no damage done – behind a bit, that’s all,

And ran with all his might and sought to make up for his fall.

So anxious to restore himself, to catch up and to win,

His mind went faster than his legs, he slipped and fell again.

He wished that he had quit before with only one disgrace.

“I’m hopeless as a runner now, I shouldn’t try to race.”

But in the laughing crowd he searched and found his father’s face,

That steady look that said again, “Get up and win the race!”

So he jumped up to try again, ten yards behind the last.

“If I’m to gain these yards,” he thought, “I’ve got to run real fast.”

Exceeding everything he had, he regained eight or ten,

But tried so hard to reach the lead, he slipped and fell again.

Defeat! He lay there silently, a tear dropped from his eye,

“There’s no sense running any more, three strikes I’m out…why try?”

The will to rise has disappeared, all hope has fled away.

So far behind, so error prone, loser all the way.

“So what’s the use,” he thought, “I’ll live with the disgrace.”

But when he thought about his dad who soon he’d have to face,

“Get up” an echo sounded low. “Get up and take your place.

You were not meant for failure here, get up and win the race.”

“Get up!” he said, “You haven’t lost at all.

For winning is no more than this – to rise each time you fall.”

So up he rose to win once more and with a new commit,

He resolved that win or lose, he would not ever quit.

So far behind the others now, the most he’d ever been,

Three times he’d fallen stumbling, three times he rose again.

Too far behind to win, he still ran to the end.

They cheered the winning runner as he crossed the line first place.

Head high and proud and happy – no failing, no disgrace.

But when the fallen youngster crossed the line – last place,

The crowd gave him a great cheer for finishing the race.

And even though he came in last, with head bowed low, unproud,

You would have thought he’d won the race to listen to the crowd.

And to his dad he sadly said, “I didn’t do so well.”

“To me you won” his father said, “You rose each time you fell.”

And now when things seem dark and hard and difficult to face,

The memory of the little boy helps me in my own race.

For all of life is like a race with ups and downs and all.

And all you have to do to win is rise each time you fall!

“QUIT!” Give up!”  “You’re beaten!”  They’re shouting in my face.

But yet another voice within me says – “Get up and win the race!”

My favorite quote reads:

“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again–because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotion, spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who have never tasted victory or defeat.”  —Teddy Roosevelt

I have respect:  For those in the game.  Those who give it all. Those who risk everything. Those who leave it all on the field. Those who push their chips “all in”.

I do not respect:  Those who criticize from the climate-controlled booth.  The ones who chuck popcorn from the cheap seats. The armchair quarterbacks. The backseat drivers.

I used to be one of those people. I used to criticize other church leaders. I used to cast doubt. I used to think I could do it better. I used to think I knew better. Arrogant thinking.

Now I’m the Lead Pastor of a church. As one who is “in the arena”, I have a greater appreciation for the price of leadership.  I can talk about risk when it comes to inheriting a church whose Sr. Pastor was removed for an affair.  I can talk about sacrifice when I moved my family across town, taking a huge monthly financial loss.  I can talk about perseverance, uprooting from a home we’d known for almost 9 years. I can talk about teamwork, watching three teenage daughters transplant to a new culture in a crucial stage of their social development.  I can talk about fortitude, dealing with tenants, taking a huge paycut, and watching our savings dwindle to nothing.  I can talk about resolve, when the very people we serve criticize the WAY we do it.  I can talk about loss when our style of ministry costs us friends.  I can talk about victory, seeing Jesus break addictions and restore relationships. I can talk about joy seeing one person come to faith in Christ.

Some may criticize.  Some may condemn.  Some may question.  Most can’t relate.  See the sweat and blood on my face. Walk in my shoes.  Travel this road.

In the New Testament, an ex-murderer-turned Jesus Freak wrote to his buddy Timothy at the end of his life and ministry:

2 Timothy 4:5-8 (NIV) 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. 6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day–and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

This is what drives me.  This is why I left the comfort of a deskjob and stepped into church leadership. Honestly, I’d rather fail at doing this than succeed doing anything else.  May God use me and my gifts somehow through this.  I want to be known as this type of leader; this type of man.  A man who strives valiantly. A man who risks greatly. A man who lives daringly. A man who cares deeply. A man who serves boldly.

I want to be known as a man who is more consumed for heaven than concerned about earth. A man on a mission. May my place never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV) 7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.