Veteran evangelist Greg Godwin introduced me to the writing of Glenn Clark. In Clark’s Fishers of Men he tells the story of a former track champion now involved in ministry. The fellow was being challenged by the long term matters and not seeing the way forward for the long haul. Clark responded to the fellow’s concern:
I turned to the track captain-who, by the way, was the state champion in the low and high hurdles-and said, “Remember the secret that has helped you win many a hard-fought hurdle race in the past. As you left the marks, you did not look at the long row of hurdles ahead of you. If you had, you would have become discouraged before you had run ten yards; but you confined your attention to the one hurdle that was directly in front of you. And the only races you won were races where you ran each hurdle as though it were the last.
1. Know the race is long.
2. Know the race has several obstacles.
3. FOCUS on the next hurdle rather than all of the hurdles. No more important word than “Focus.” Today, what is the immediate hurdle before you? That hurdle gets all the attention! Now think about what matters could be confusing your focus on that next hurdle? Paul’s “one thing!”
4. Run each hurdle as though it were the last. Life can be lived always thinking about the future date when you will finally give it your best! One cannot emphasize every syllable but the current hurdle before you needs your attention. Give this your best! Give it your all!
5. Clark did not say it, but you have to run your race! A hurdler must focus on the hurdles before him rather than on the runner beside him. Each setting has a unique calling and a unique field in which to work. Harvest may come easy in some place and be a difficult struggle in another. Keep your eyes on your lane and your hurdles!