No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. -Hebrews 12:11
The most difficult part of a race, particularly a marathon, is not the race itself, but the training you have to do to get there. Fortunately I doubt any of us know individuals who show up to the start of a marathon without training and “try” to finish. Despite how much confidence you may have, your will power and sheer determination is usually not enough to allow you to achieve that goal or new personal best. However there are many times we often tell ourselves that “trying” is enough. It’s definitely easier but often without the outcome we set for ourselves.
If you have a goal, don’t try to accomplish it, TRAIN to accomplish it!
We often realize just how difficult it is to “try” something and how weak our will power is when we commit to giving something up during Lent. Many more of us experience this as we create New Year’s Resolutions or go on a diet. Trying is often not enough and we slip, stumble, and often fail. We would achieve many more goals and improve who we are if we embraced the idea that it takes time to train ourselves to make changes in our personal, professional, and spiritual lives.
It should start with a goal… and a plan!
One of the first things I recommend to those preparing for a marathon is to develop a plan. There are great resources on the internet to help you understand what you need to do and how often. This same approach should be used for other improvements we are looking to make in our lives. Rather than miles and workouts, it might include a bible reading plan for a spiritual goal or a career plan to identify how to get that promotion. You can try really hard to get that promotion, but I bet the person that has planned what they need to do will get there first.
Being held accountable – “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” Proverbs 27:17
I can’t stress the impact that running with others has had to help me improve and attain new goals. Having those who can help, support, and hold us accountable is extremely valuable. Unfortunately we sometimes think we can do it on our own. I have seen the same impact in other areas of my life as well. In a previous post I shared that exchanging weekly e-mails with a good friend that focus on the five “F’s” has been helpful to keeping me on track in several areas in my life. Being part of a bible study, a professional organization, and many support groups can help you grow and improve in ways you couldn’t on your own.
As you think about those areas in your life you want to change, from living healthier, developing more patience, or improving your performance at work, realize that trying is often not enough. We need a plan and a good plan should require regular training… not another attempt at trying!
Ultimately there are times when all the training still might not be enough to face unexpected challenges we are sure to face. It is in these times when the best plan also involves looking to our Lord with whom you “can do all things through him who strengthens me”.