The Advent season brings many different things in different parts of the world. I live in the Dallas area. Shortly after the founding of my church in a Dallas suburb, I noticed a significant drop-off in attendance on the first or second Sunday each December. Those missing from weekly worship were not only people on the periphery but some of our core members.
When I asked around, I discovered that they were running off to run!
It was here that I began to tap into the “running addiction” that possessed several of our members. It wasn’t long before they tried to recruit me to their passion.
In one season, I managed to run eleven miles at one time. Not quite a half marathon.
When I finished, I asked myself, “Why am I doing this?”
Since I couldn’t formulate a good answer, I haven’t run that far since, at least not for health and recreation. I confess: I envy people who turn their health into a hobby and run long distances.
50 years of the Dallas Marathon
This weekend is the fiftieth running of the now famous Dallas Marathon.
The story of this local race says something to me about the history and current mentality of our culture. In 1971, Tal Morrison had the idea of a 26.2-mile marathon in Dallas. That year, eighty-two signed up and sixty-one finished.
If I had been in the race, I think I would have been among the twenty-one non-finishers!
This year, more than twenty thousand runners from all fifty states will participate. (Church attendance in the Dallas area will take note!)
One of the runners this weekend in Dallas will be seventy-four-year-old Annabelle Corboy. She was there fifty years ago when the race started and became its first woman winner with a time of 4:12:25. (The current women’s time record for this race is 2:29:55!)
When Corboy was interviewed about running in this year’s race, she remarked, “In spite of the fact that I insist that I’m an average runner, I have spent a lot of hours of my life running. It is something that means a lot to me. To be able to kind of look back and say, yeah, I’ve done this for 50 years, it’s something I am proud of.”
Run the race
Her comment could be like what many pastors might say: “In spite of the fact that I’m an average pastor, I’ve spent a lot of hours of my life serving Christ and his people. It means a lot to me and it’s something I’m proud of.”
We often speak about the evil, dangerous forms of pride in the life of faith. We often miss its positive side. As a pastor servant of Christ, I hope you feel proud of what God has called you to do and is empowering you to do even now. Being a pastor and church leader is a great work. I hope and pray you feel proud and will feel even more proud of how you served when your run is finished.
Remember, don’t compare or compete with your fellow pastors and churches. It leads to envy, hinders fellowship, and crushes joy. Be faithful with what God has put in your hands to oversee and shepherd—and run your race.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”Hebrews 12:1–2 NIV