Running the Race

runningI’ve never been athletic or won anything for my athletic ability. The image of winning, much less being a successful athlete, is hard to relate to.

However, I find myself needing encouragement in the colossal race of leading Nurses Christian Fellowship. I asked God to help me understand Paul’s biblical image of running like a winner.

The apostle Paul used the image of running to describe his work for God. He told the Corinthians, “Run your race in such a way that you may seize the prize and make it yours!” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).

What is the hoped-for outcome? “I press on toward the goal to win the heavenly prize” (Philippians 3:12-14). At the end of his life, Paul wrote, “I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).

I want to say that too. So, since I’m not a runner, I asked some distance runners at my fitness center how they run a race. Here is their advice:

  1. Run with a pacer. Long races have pacers who, before the race, hold up signs saying “8” or “10”. You line up behind them and keep their 8- or 10-minute mile pace.
  2. Stay with a packStick with a group of running friends throughout the race.
  3. Use a special pacer. Find a fresh runner who jumps in beside you at critical times.
  4. Listen to the cheers. An applauding crowd along the road gives adrenaline!
  5. Keep mentally focused. Don’t think discouraging thoughts; stay positive.

Do any of these tips resonate with you? They did for me. God spoke to me about the pacers and fellow runners he has provided in NCF and JCN staff. He told me to believe the cheers and stop negative thoughts. He has provided everything needed to run like a winner and receive the imperishable crown (1 Cor. 9:25; 2 Tim. 4:8).

In your life and mine, running to win the prize God has in store for us means we keep going. And we find others who can serve as pacers, cheer us on, and keep us company in our daily race. NCF nurse groups and student ministries do this. You can gain much by joining a group-—or even launching one.

And let’s pray for each other to run the race well as we bring the good news of Jesus to nursing and our patients.

Kathy Schoonover-Shoffner, PhD, RN
Director, Nurses Christian Fellowship
Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Christian Nursing

Run with a team that supports your faith and nursing practice by becoming a member of the NCF professional organization. JOIN NCF.



I'd add one other lesson from scripture (I actually am cribbing this from a friend's presentation to a Mothers of Many Seasons group at my church.). That is to focus on what is in your lane. In both Phil 3: 13 and Heb 12:1-2, we're encouraged to focus. Not on the past, not on what is outside our lane, but only on our race, and Jesus who sets our individual goals for us. If we focus on things we cannot change- from other's attitudes, to system problems outside of our scope of practice, to even what the "storm" looks like, we will stumble and fall. If, however, our focus is constant and found in our personal relationship with and guidance from Jesus, we will not grow weary and lose heart (Heb 12:3).

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