Sprints, Marathons, and Everything In Between

<%image(20050513-marathon.jpg|141|106|marathon)%> As Julie and I dove into a number of humongous cleaning projects this past week, I realized a crucial thing about us. Borrowing from the language of Joe Meyers (author of The Search to Belong), Julie is a sprinter, while I am a marathoner. We can both work, but we both do it in very different ways. The lessons learned from sprinting and marathons applies to numerous other areas as well.

More to come, had to “sprint” off to graduation rehearsal!

OK, had a great time at the reception and rehearsal. It’s going to be interesting to see how much a bunch of smart seminary students can botch up a ceremony. The seminary staff told us to just make sure we all sit in the right seat. Everything else is up for grabs! We had a great chat with Dr. John Franke. Julie couldn’t believe how down to earth he is, just making jokes and talking about life, family, and a little bit of theology. It was also funny to see a bunch of seminary students gathering around the “snacks” and filling up several plates that would surely serve as the night’s dinner. I guess you have to take your perks when they come: occasional free meals and free copies of the latest Bible translations.

Back to sprints and marathons.
Starting with cleaning, I tend to pick up a few projects and then work on them on a fairly regular basis. I don’t mind planning ahead, making lists, and then knocking them out fairly methodically. I don’t mind taking breaks, but can also kick it in and move from project to project, multitasking at times. Julie on the other hand can work off a list, but she most naturally can clean the home on particular occasions. Though she may not regularly clean like I do, she will do an exceptional job in a short amount of time, moving from project to project, transforming the home nearly overnight. My steady and methodical cleaning rarely equals the thorough work of Julie when she sprints.

My earthy example of cleaning reveals a little bit of how we move at different paces at different times. Sprinting and running marathons can be applied to a variety of areas. Take church for instance. The people who thrive in a small or new church plant are often the sprinters. They love to start new things and can throw themselves into the ministry for short periods of time. Their problem is that they often need to stop and take a rest, something that is hard in America. We live our lives preparing to do more, but we rarely ever plan to rest. Sprinters need to know when to stop and to value periods of resting.

On the other hand, it seems that maranthoners can really handle the steady flow of work created in larger churches or organizations. They can work for the long-haul, spreading it out over a long period of time. Yet the problem for a marathoner such as myself needs to make sure that I’m moving forward, not dragging my feet as I move forward.

In other settings, a marathoner may want to tithe every week at church, regularly giving as most churches expect. Yet a sprinter may want to give on a monthly or yearly basis. In addition, sprinters and marathoners may approach small groups, Bible study, etc. in a similar manner.

I have found that having a conception of these categories can be very helpful in finding my stride in life. I don’t have to worry that I want to study the Bible, tithe, or work in the same way as other people. I am indepted to Joe Meyers for these insights and plan to post more about my ETREK class with Joe in the near future.