Today, Keith and Chad discuss the Biblical metaphor of running a race and what that means for the believer today.
Intro (Keith): Welcome to the Kanakuk Institute Podcast, where we continue to equip leaders with biblical skills for a lifetime of ministry.
Chad (00:13): And welcome back into the Kanakuk Institute Podcast. Chad and Keith with you, excited to talk about something we’re both extremely passionate about. We both love to run.
Keith (00:23): Yeah we do.
Chad: (00:24): And thankfully, the Bible uses running as a fun illustration. Keith, I guarantee you have a running story.
Keith (00:30): Oh man. You know, Chad, thank you for, you know, I think about running a race, and I’ll never forget, you know, years ago, I was watching this special on ESPN. And this special on ESPN was talking about special Olympics. Now, special Olympics are very special to me because I had a cousin named Suzie, who was a down syndrome girl. And she was the same age as me, and I grew up with her. And I watched Suzie her whole life and she was nothing like me. But I don’t know if I’ve ever met a person that brought me greater joy. She never had a bad day. And she was always fired up. Now, she was three times the size of me, and she’d knock me to the ground, and she was always, you know, pummeling me in some form, fashion, way. But I’m going to tell you something, I never saw her have a bad day. But as I was watching this ESPN special on special Olympics, I’ll never forget it because, there were these eight kids about to run what’s called the 400. It’s the 400 meters, one lap around the track. And all these kids are in line, and they’re getting in their blocks, which they didn’t know how to get into and it was funny and you’re kind of laughing, and they’re all getting in the wrong way and doing the things. It was just, it was just, it was classic. It was so pure. So awesome. And you’re watching this going, “I love this.” Well, the starter holds his gun up, “Runners to your marks, get set.” And about that time, one of the boys goes, “Look.” And he just points up into the sky. “There’s a balloon.” Well, these eight kids were immediately caught up with the balloons. Now, the starter, he still goes, “BANG.” And he shoots the guns, because he’s not caught up with the balloons, he’s to start the race. Well, this one kid that saw the balloon, he takes off. And he’s rounding the first corner, you know the 110, he’s down to the 200-meter mark. And all of a sudden he realizes nobody’s running with him. And he stops dead on the track and he starts screaming back at the other runners, “Hey, we’re over here!” And he’s waving, “Come.” And all of a sudden everybody goes, “Wow.” And they take off running. Now, the guys that are filming this on ESPN are going, “All the boy has to do is turn around and run, and he gets a gold metal.” But this boy is just standing there screaming, Come! Come!” And one passes him, two passes him, the next thing he knows, all seven had passed him. They all finished the race, and this boy now comes in dead last. And afterwards they come and they do an interview. They said, “Son, don’t you know you could have won a gold metal today? All you had to do was run the race.” And he said something that forever has stood out to me. He said, “It’s no fun to run a race if there’s no one to run with.” And I thought, “Wow.” What a great statement. That boy had greater insights than most people on our planet today. You know? There’s no fun in running by yourself. And so you know when you think about that you go, “Wow, Paul makes a great statement here in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. He tells us that we all run in a race, but only one receives the prize, therefore run in such a way that you may win. I kind of like that, because running a race, it isn’t fun to run without other. You know? And he tells us to run a race that we may win. Chad, this is probably the biggest area of my life I had the hardest time learning what winning is. I grew up very competitive. Being a smaller kid, but with wheels. I was always going to try to prove you that I was faster than you I could jump further than you, I was a better athlete than you. So my proof of winning was being better than you. Well, when I read scripture, and you read what winning is, I go, “I don’t think that was really Christ’s mentality.” Winning, I don’t necessarily think that it’s winning on a scoreboard. You know? I heard a definition, and it was by a guy named Wes Neal. Wes wrote a booklet called The Institute of Athletic Perfection. And I got saved my senior year in high school and I began to receive these publications from Wes Neal talking about athletics Christ’s way. And he gave a definition in there that said, “Winning is a total release of all that you are towards becoming like Christ. Losing is giving anything less than God’s best.” And I thought, “That to me was brilliant.” Because I had always thought I was a loser if I didn’t win on the scoreboard, when all of a sudden, I realize, “No, I had probably won from the world’s eyes a lot of games, where I was really a loser because I had a sorry attitude, I cursed, I didn’t have the right attitude, I was more concerned about the outcome of the scoreboard than I was about glorifying Christ.”
Chad (05:24): That’s good, and he even touches on that when he says, “Run in such a way.” He’s not talking about the prize; he’s talking about the way. It’s, “This is how I want you to do it, and this is how you do it different than the world,” and man that’s so hard for people to learn right? That I don’t have to be the bets player on the basketball court, or the football field, or the soccer field, but I actually can be the best to everybody on the field by the way I get people involved.
Keith (05:51): Well, the way we measure success in today’s world is an outcome of the score. And so, the problem with that is, if, and I’ll, growing, I’ll never forget, I was running in a race in high school, I’m sorry in college. And it was called “Superstars.” And all these guys from different abilities were running in a 100-meter race with me. Well, I was a college 100-meter runner. I, some of these guys did not look like 100-meter runners. And one day, I’m running and this one guy was shorter than me, different shaped than me, and we take off, and I didn’t want to kill these people. You know? I didn’t need to run a time that was going to humiliate them. So I ran at a level that was just measurably a little bit better than them. And when I got through, this one boy said, “You tick me off.” I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “don’t ever patronize me by lowering your abilities to run like me. I was running my best. You weren’t. You’re a loser.” And I went, “Dude.”
Chad (07:00): And he was right.
Keith (07:01): He was right. He was exactly right. And I thought, “That forever will stick with me.” Because you see, a total release of all that you are towards becoming like Christ is that I give my best. But my best may not be better than the other guys that are out there because there are better elite athletes, but my best is doing the best that God made me to be. And when I learned that Chad, it changed and revolutionized the way that I performed. Because I was no longer trying to be that guy, I wanted to be the guy that glorified Christ.
Chad (07:34): And it’s Romans 12:1-2 right?
Keith (07:35): Yes it is.
Chad (07:36): It is worship when we make our bodies living sacrifices, like that is pleasing to the Lord whether you’re running, walking, theater, in the classroom, in a sport, you play the tuba, it doesn’t matter. It is worship unto the Lord when we take the time to use our God given gifts to the fullness that he’s given us.
Keith (07:58): To the fullness. You know, we were talking earlier today about, you know, in one of the podcasts that we’ve done recently on favoritism. And what we do oftentimes, we look at favoritism, we look at others as better than others. And the problem with that is, when you don’t see others as a winner, you’ve qualified them as a loser, and we’ve made distinctions and the problem with that distinctions is that we assume that we’re better, and Paul says, “No. WE all run the race. Only one receives the prize. Therefore, run in such a way, not boxing the air, or not running in a way that you run outside the boundaries.” I used to think something Chad, I used to think that freedom was doing what I wanted. You know? And I thought, when I wen toff to college, “Man, finally I’m free.” My mom had a curfew, I had to live by these certain ways. And when I went off to college, I thought freedom was doing exactly what I wanted to do. And I found out that freedom was not without boundaries. Freedom was walking within the boundaries, and Paul is saying, “Guys when you run outside the boundaries, you will be disqualified.”
Chad (09:11): Yeah, you can run a track meet and you can cut halfway across the field and win the race, but you’re disqualified.
Keith (09:18): You’re disqualified. And we don’t teach that enough. You know? We don’t, our character is such in disarray in today’s world. Because we’re teaching everybody just outdo the other one. Make better on a test by cheating, whatever means you can do on a test to be Summa Cum Laude, Magna Cum Laude, Cum Laude, or if you’re like me, Thank the Laude. You know? It’s wherever you’re at, you had to do your very very best. But now we’re taught to cheat. It’s not about keeping the rules, it’s that as long as you don’t get caught you’re ok.
Chad (09:53): Yeah, it’s the result trumps everything, and as long as we get the result we want, it doesn’t matter how we got there, which is why he couches it in verse 25. “Everyone who competes in the game exercises.”
Keith (10:04): Self control
Chad (10:05): “In all things.” And then he goes on, “They do it to receive a perishable wreath, not an imperishable.” That wreath obviously talking about the Greek and Romans games.
Keith (10:15): The Ishmean Games, all they did was put a little wreath on their head, and that’s what you got to wear. “Look at me.”
Chad (10:20): No gold metal.
Keith (10:21): No gold metal, it’s a little wreath that’s a couple of little vines on the head, and you go, “Go.” And you go, “In today’s world, would that suffice us?” All we do now is we give everybody a trophy. And so in this world of giving everybody a trophy, nobody knows what winning or losing is. You know? We’re validating bad behavior, we’re validating those that are outside the boundaries, those that aren’t doing the thing that they need to do unto the Lord, and we’re saying it’s ok. And Paul says, “No.” Everybody who runs these races exercises self-control. I like that word, because it’s the fruits of the Spirit. You know, self-control is a great thing that all of us need to understanding our life. Because that really is, it will be what guides us to perform better. I, if I don’t understand self control, and I want to go run a marathon, and I just say I’m going to go run a marathon. Well, I’m never going to run a good marathon if I don’t’ exercise self control. I have to change the way I eat, I have to change the way I wake up in the morning and go run a few miles, and then maybe in the afternoon I go run a few more miles. And in the course of a week, I’m putting gin 30, 40, 50 miles. But if I just say I’m going to run one mile a week, and I’m going to run a marathon, there’s no way. But we like to take, and Paul says, “Don’t take the easy route.” Winning is you be your very best to the glory of God. I like what 1 Corinthians 9:22 says, because he says, “Paul became all things to all people that he might win some.”
Chad (11:55): And all those things are tied to purpose, right?
Keith (11:56): Absolutely
Chad (11:57): Like the way we run, the way we train, the way we interact with people, it’s all driven at what is our purpose? What are we trying to accomplish. Am I trying to win the race or am I trying to win people? Am I trying to win the argument or am I trying to win the relationship? It’s just that constant reminder, so, if you were going to close us out and we were going to kind of encapsulate what we were talking about, running with purpose. If you had to give us one minute of, “What does it mean to run with purpose?” What would you say?
Keith (12:22): You know, Chad thank you for asking that question because, once again, I think Paul said it best once again in 1 Timothy 4:7b, the second part of that verse he says, “Discipline yourself for the purpose of Godliness.” If I run a race, it doesn’t matter if I win and get the gold metal. It matters that I ran my very very best. That I trained the very best that I could. That I did the very best that I could. Because some students are C students. They’ll never be an A student, but yet for them, winning is a C.
Chad (12:50): Yeah, a C may be better than an A for somebody that doesn’t try and, yeah.
Keith (12:54): And what we do is we only assume that the A is the only way. Or first place. And so, we have to begin to help people to understand. At each one’s level, at their ability, let’s let them be winners in Christ. Let’s discipline their body, their mental physical, relational, spiritual self, to be winners in Christ. That they give everything they can to the glory of God.
Chad (12:21): That’s good, let it be worship.
Keith (12:22): Let it be worship.
Chad (13:25): So we pray today that as you’re running your race as you’re out there in the world, that you’re running with purpose, that you’re exercising self-control so that you might win some. We sure love you guys, hope you’re having a great day. Thanks for joining us on the Kanakuk Institute Podcast.