by Gloria Stella
When you think about your life and the race you are running—what’s a win for you? Some might define a win as raising kids that excel at a prestigious university, writing a book that reaches bestseller status, speaking at an arena packed with people, or having a massive social media following.
But what happens if the kids drop out of college, or if the book only sells five copies? What if only that one awkward person shows up to your event or you struggle to get 300 followers on Instagram? Is it still a win?
If a task is completed faithfully and obediently, then according to God, it’s a win. Because the beautiful thing about this race is that God doesn’t define wins by worldly standards. Our win is simply to finish the race He has called us to run. It’s God’s job to make “everything beautiful in its time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11), whether that looked like a “success” to us or not.
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith,” says 2 Timothy 4:7.
As you run your race, these questions can help us focus on faithful obedience rather than on results:
Did God call you to everything that is on your plate? Or is your plate filled with tasks that logically aligned with your dream or you felt obligated to do as a “good Christian”—but God didn’t specifically assign to you? Not every good opportunity is God’s opportunity for you. We must be prayerful to only take on the tasks that God has assigned to us in our current season. Every opportunity you take that isn’t yours is an opportunity that belongs to someone else. This might mean saying no to an invitation to speak somewhere or be in the limelight. It might mean missing out on something that might be a good opportunity, but isn’t God’s best for you.
Are there opportunities God has directed you to take but you turned down because it was too difficult, too random, or made you feel like you would be going backward? I have learned never to dismiss an opportunity too quickly. You never know when an experience might be essential to your growth or is strategic in opening bigger. We must stay humble and open to what God calls us to and trust His direction more than our logic.
We don’t know the course of our race—only God does. There are too many people getting sidetracked trying to hustle and make their God-given dreams come true themselves and then asking God to bless it. Are you doing your own thing or allowing God to direct every step and take you through the process even if it doesn’t make sense? If God gave you a dream then only He knows how to get you there. He knows when you need to turn to avoid a catastrophe, slow down to develop character traits that you’ll need later, pause to help a fellow racer back up, or stop dragging along a partner who quit a long time ago. God gave us intellect so we can strategize how we execute the tasks within our lives but it’s God's job to determine which tasks He assigns us.
It can be tempting to view the people around us as our competition, but they’re not. Those around us are most often teammates assigned to different tracks. Our true opponent in the race God has marked out for us is an enemy who attacks within our minds. This enemy has three tactics:
• Discourage us so we quit too soon,
• Distract us so we stop our race unknowingly,
• Distance us from God so we run off course.
Let us not be “unaware of his schemes” (2 Corinthians 2:11). If our focus is on those around us, we can end up losing the race simply by racing against the wrong opponent.
Stay the course. Run your race. Finish. Do what God has called you to do today. Finish what He has called you to start until He releases you. Don’t get distracted or discouraged with the “success” of your assigned task. God determines how He uses your win—whether that’s reaching the masses or reaching the one. Our win is to live our life in faithful obedience and in the end to hear our Heavenly Father proclaim “well done, good and faithful servant.”
Gloria Stella is a film producer, author, pastor’s wife and mom of three young children. She recently produced and co-directed the faith-based dramedy “Tulsa” and co-authored the books, I Can’t Help the Way I Feel? and CounterCulture Marriage alongside her husband, Robert Stella, who serves as the Free Chapel Midtown Campus Pastor in Atlanta. Connect with Gloria on social media at @thegloriastella.