Two days ago, I ran a half-marathon. (For those of you not in the running world, that's 13.1 miles.) But as you can probably imagine, I didn't just wake up two days ago and decide to run a half-marathon. It's a decision I made many months ago, and I've spent the time in between training for this distance.
We live in a world that participates less and less in things that we have to train for. Today's younger generations are too often taught that if they aren't naturally good at something, they shouldn't pursue it; and if they are naturally good at it, they shouldn't have to practice. So most of our culture only does what they are naturally good at and only as well as they are naturally good at it, and...we're suffering for that.
The same is true in the church, by the way. We ask for teachers for the children's ministry, and someone says they wouldn't be good at that. We ask for volunteers for the worship ministry, and someone says they are only a mediocre musician. We ask for someone to get up and read the Scriptures, and someone says they don't read or speak very well. We always seem to have an excuse as to why we can't do something or why someone shouldn't expect us to do something, and that excuse always seems to be the same:
I'm not naturally good at that.
That is, actually, only half of an excuse; it's the half that we're willing to admit because it's the half that's more socially acceptable and seemingly universally-understood.
The second half, though, is this:
And I'm not willing to put in the work to get better.
That's what you're really saying. When you say that you're not good at something so you're not going to do it, you're also saying that you're not willing to put in the effort to even try to get better. You aren't willing to practice. You won't train for it.
Honestly, that's no way to live. You're going to miss out on so many things that God wants to do in you, with you, and through you if you aren't willing to train for some things. If you aren't willing to practice and to get better.
Want to know the dirty little secret? Really?
None of us is naturally good at anything.
Every single one of us is born naked, crying, unable to use a toilet, unable to speak. Not one of us comes out of the womb walking. Not one of us comes out potty-trained. Not one of us comes out eloquent. We all come out naked and squirming and screaming our heads off. And the only reason that we (well, most of us) aren't still naked, squirming, and screaming as adults is because we put in the work that it takes to learn how to take care of ourselves, to walk, to talk, to do things.
We trained for being human. It's the only way we got here.
Every single thing that you are "naturally good at," you trained to be able to do. You trained to throw a ball. You trained to do math. You trained to speak publicly. There was a point in your life, no matter what it is, that you couldn't do that thing, no matter how "naturally" good at it you are today.
The sad part is that for too many of us, when we figured out we were "naturally" good at it, we stopped training, and we never got better than we already thought we were.
I spent most of my life as, get this, not a runner. Seriously. I ran as a kid when I had to, but never for fun; I didn't take up running as recreation until I was 30 years old. Thirty. And I'm not naturally good at it now. I train to be a runner.
There are a few other things I've been thinking about regarding training, particularly with race day, and I want to share those with you this week. I think they're important, whether you're running a race or just trying to live a faithful life.