Why we all need to stop looking at the scoreboard

I’ve mentioned this before, but I love what Nadia Bolz-Weber says when people ask her how to get closer to Jesus.

“Get closer to Jesus? I keep trying to get away from him and he keeps running me down and making me live healthier.”

I’m paraphrasing a bit, and this is completely tongue-in-cheek, but I totally get what she’s saying.

I feel like I got tackled by Jesus recently. A blind spot in my life was recently brought to my attention and I knew it was an opportunity to do some maturing.

And I want to make sure I tell you: I’m really grateful for it! I’m really happy that Jesus continues to transform me. I need it!

But man it’s not fun. I’d much rather just continue to be self-centered and do whatever makes me feel good than to go through the pain of growing healthier.

Out of that situation, I started talking with a close friend about the big questions in life: am I making a difference? Has my life mattered?

This is probably coming from the fact I’ll be turning 40 later this year, and from just having come through a major and unexpected transition in life.

Read this: If you’re doubting God’s plan 

My buddy gave me some great advice: Stop focussing on the results and spend more time focusing on the process.

Today I heard a podcast by Craig Groeschel saying essentially the same thing: to focus on input goals instead of outcome goals. For example, instead of saying, “I’m going to lose 20 pounds,” say “I’m going to eliminate sweets from my diet and workout 4 times per week.”

Craig is a little too regimented for my personality, so I’m not looking for excessive quantifiable metrics, but rather an overall strategy to keep my focus on what’s in front of me. So that I can be faithful to what I have been given, instead of worrying too much about outcomes over which I have limited control.

After prayer and thought, here’s what I have so far:

  • Be Healthy –
    • Physically: Go on adventures, run races, get outside in nature.
    • Emotionally: Know and be known. Love and be loved.
    • Mentally: Study, learn, read.
    • Spiritually: Actively invite God into every aspect of life.
  • Be Creative – Look for new/interesting ways to say important things.
  • Be Aware – Care about and for those who are unseen and uncared for.
  • Be Sacrificial – Give of myself (time, energy, money, experience) for the benefit of others.

It’s a work in progress, but I think this will free me from worries about comparing myself to others. If I’m doing the best I can with what I’ve got where I’m at, no other input is needed.

Honestly, I should have learned this lesson long ago when I started running races. I didn’t do any races for the first 10 years after high school because I didn’t want to run races I knew I couldn’t win. But when I realized I needed to do something to get into shape, I started running for myself and against myself. If I was getting faster and healthier, then it didn’t matter if somebody else could run 5k way faster than me. I learned not to run to win but to run for myself. I can’t control the fact that other people are able to run really fast.

So, on the scoreboards, I don’t spend a lot of time looking at other people’s times, I look at mine and ask, “Is that the best I could do, or can I get a little faster?”

Likewise, I can’t control how many people buy a book I write, or what doors will open for my career. Or how long I’ll have the health to keep running. I can only choose what I do with what I have today.

So I’m going to stop saying, “I wish this,” or “I wish that.” Instead, I can look at how I live and ask, “Was I healthy, creative, aware and sacrificial?” And leave the results in the hands of God.

Now read this: How can you be more empathetic with others?

This post originally appeared on Making Faith Practical and was republished with permission.

Thomas Christianson is a writer, speaker and professor living in the Baltimore area. He also serves as a Campus Director of Lighthouse church. He is the author of the upcoming book, The Unreasonable Jesus: Becoming the Person He Made You to Be. You can visit his website at makingfaithpractical.com for more articles and info.


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