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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Pace... for running and ministry...

Many of you who follow me on Twitter or are friends with me on Facebook know that I have been becoming a runner for the past year (in fact I had a student the other day that celebrated that I had tweeted about something other than running... thanks A.K.). I use the word "becoming" intentionally because I'm not sure that I have arrived yet... or when I will arrive. But I'm working on it.

This morning, I had a great run. It was one of those runs that I look forward to having, but don't have very often. I felt strong. I felt fast. I ran fast and strong and felt great the entire time. The temperature was great (about 58 and sunny) and everything lined up perfectly. In fact, for most of my run, I felt like I couldn't run fast enough to keep up with my body. My body wanted to go faster and faster and faster but I was running as fast as I could and couldn't run faster. It felt great. I had fun.

I've been training for a half marathon (Akron, Ohio 1/2 Marathon on September 25). As I am entering into my last month of training... which is going pretty good... my long runs are starting to get longer and longer (7-10 miles) and my speed/tempo workouts are getting longer too (6-9 miles). Which is good.

But this morning's run was only 2 miles. I loved it and I find myself looking forward to these 2 mile runs twice a week every week because I can really unload the speed that I am achieving. They are fun... like going out to play for a few minutes.

This morning, as I ran, I felt really good. But as I crossed the mile and half mark and heard Runkeeper update me on my pace, the thought crossed my mind "I feel really good... and while I wish I could run 10 miles at this pace, I know I can't."

The pace that I was running for my 2-miler would never work for a 10-12 or 13.1 miler. It just wasn't sustainable.

Right now in ministry, I'm feeling like I did this morning on my run. I'm feeling strong. I'm feeling good. I'm feeling like I can and should do anything and everything. I feel like I can set an 8 1/2 minute mile (which is fast for me) in ministry. The reality is, however, that pace isn't sustainable over a long period of time. The reason I could pull it off this morning was that I was only going a short distance. It wouldn't for long distances.

Ministry is a marathon... especially working with students... and not a sprint. Right now, I have to realize that I'm gong for distance and not for speed. I want to go the long distance and not the short. While it might be easy to pick up the pace and click off some impressive mile splits, I'll burn out.

So as I thought about that and my running... what can help make those long distances more achievable? A couple of things came to mind...

FIRST... Make a point of regular evaluation. Every mile, Runkeeper on my iPhone tells me how long I've been running, how far and how fast I am currently going. By hearing that, I know if I'm going too fast or too slow. Folks in ministry need regular time of stepping back and listening to our internal clocks. Chances are good that you know if you're going too fast or not. If you don't, ask your spouse and friends. They probably have a better perspective than you (since you have your to-do list in mind and they don't).

SECOND... Find someone to run with. When I run with my wife, I tend to run slower and more intentionally because I can't just pick up the pace or slow down at random. When I run with her, I tend to run further because I run slower earlier in my run. Same is true in ministry... especially youth ministry. Find someone to run with... another youth pastor in the area would be preferable. Find someone who can tell you to slow down if you need to. Find someone that you can just have fun with... someone outside of your church context. Also, someone who understands what you're going through. Runners get runners. Youth ministers get youth ministers.

THIRD... Get the long view in mind. My mind is set differently when I'm running 9 miles than it is when I run 2 miles. I know that I'm going for distance. It's easy in the tyranny of the immediate to try to run 8 1/2 minute miles in the first two miles because it feels good. But you will pay later. Same is true in ministry. This week's to-do list feels like it has to be completely accomplished with everything crossed off. And there are tasks that need to be accomplished this week, don't get me wrong. But sometimes we only think about this week and don't realize that we can and should take years to accomplish the long-term goals.

So this morning... I want to run long in ministry. As I hear every day about youth ministers either leaving the ministry altogether or leaving youth ministry it breaks my heart. My hope is that I've encouraged you to run an extra mile. You might just find the fun around the corner.

Jim

1 comment:

  1. Great post keep up the good work not only in running but in your ministry, GOD has such a plan for you and your wife here in Zanesville, excited to watch it unfold.

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