What race am I running and how do I know when I’m winning it?
Some would never compare life to a race. It implies a competitive spirit where someone wins and someone loses. They’d say that's okay in sports, but not in real life. Love and humility and being a "sweet Christian" would never involve you excelling above the norm, out-doing your neighbor, or having the appearance of being above and beyond other people in your life.
I get it. I grew up in a religious atmosphere where humility was equal to self-degradation.
…Then I grew up.
Self-degradation is not humility, but rather self-focus and self-righteousness. The person who is constantly speaking of themselves as not one who is worthy, significant, or special is, in fact, "constantly speaking of themselves." Self-degradation is self-elevation. They proudly present themselves as humble servants. (And they want you to be sure and know that this is true.)
True humility is knowing who you are and not making a deal out of it. False humility is not knowing who you are and making a big deal out of it... over and over. When you are confident of who you are in Christ, what He made you to be, and what He wants you to do with your life, then you know that you cannot do it without Him. What He wants you to be and accomplish is far greater than what you can do in your own strength and power. What He has called you to be and do is more than significant… it is world-changing.
That is the race.
And that requires more than what I have, in and of myself, to get the job done. Staying focused on winning that race keeps me humble and in need of the grace and power that only comes by submitting my life to the King of kings and Lord of lords.
Truth of the matter is... God has called you to run a race that only you and He together can win. You have a destiny, a finish line to cross, a measurement of what you have done with what you have been given.
(I just took a break from writing this article and saw a quote on a friend's Facebook page and then realized it was authored by my own wife. She said, "You exited the womb a very significant person. You got the job of being you! God has no backup plan!” - Carol Burton McLeod. I guess we are on the same wavelength today.)
We are not competing against others, attempting to beat them in a race against each other. This is about the race of life. You are competing against yourself. You are challenging yourself to be the best that you can possibly be. You also have an enemy, and you’re running against all the obstacles that he puts in your pathway. God has a plan for your life… and so does the devil. Which plan will win? That is a daily decision that you will have to make if you are going to win the race.
My fifth and last child, Joni, is graduating from college with honors this weekend with two degrees. If you hear a bit of pride in that last sentence, you got it right. I am extremely proud of her (and humbly so. :) She will receive a prize that others will not have accomplished. But she was not competing against her classmates, she was competing against her own expectations of the vision and excellence that God has put in her heart. She battled through every challenge and roadblock. Not only that, but this win is not the end. She’s now preparing for the next lap in her race as she will be moving to India for 12 months to minister to the people of that nation.
Your race is your destiny. What race are you running, and are you winning it? Do you know who you are in Christ? He made you and then made you again through the redemption of the cross and resurrection. Then He gave you the Holy Spirit, the wind in your sails, to accomplish all that He puts in your heart to be and do.
Pray for a detailed description of where you are in your life, what the race looks like and what it will take to win it. It may be finishing school or raising children. It may include winning your neighbor to Christ. It might be loving your spouse with a heart of servanthood every day. Then there is the job, the skill, the talent and knowing how to make it better. While you are at it, don't forget to include the demonstration of your character and how you treat other people.
I have a list of seven things that define my race. I read it regularly as a part of my daily discipline. I'm trying to keep my eye on Jesus and the race He is giving me and making sure that I win it.
How about you? What is your race? Are you winning it?
"...In a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize... run that you may obtain it." (1 Cor. 9:24)