This past weekend was the 79th Annual National Trout Festival here in our little town. I often joke that it is the time of year when everyone climbs out of their winter dens to show off their new tattoos (present company excluded). It’s your typical display of small town flavor with parades, a carnival, flea market, and a lot of other stuff too. I haven’t been to any of the festivities over the last few years due to scheduling conflicts, but this year I was able to make a long overdue appearance.
This year I got to experience a part of the Festival I had never seen before. Every year, the Rotary Club of Kalkaska puts on a race called the Trout Run. It is a 1 mile fun-run combined with a 5k and a 10k race for those people who feel a need to have their heart pound hard (I don’t understand such things). This year my schedule was different, and for the first time as a Rotarian, I was able to be there at the race to help out. I had a blast! It was fun seeing all the different people who came out to run for the fun of running! We even had one guy who ran the 5k in waders!
It was a beautiful morning Saturday. Clear skies and a good bit of sunshine made the 30 degree temperature during set-up feel tolerable. By the time the first race race began we were looking at a balmy 40 and a lot of sun with just a bit of wind that would be in the racers face as they headed out, but would be a nice benefit on the way back.
After the 1 mile run was completed, everyone was ready to go on the 5k and 10k races. They all lined up together for the start, we counted it down, and the siren went off for the start. After that it was a lot of milling around for us non-racers, but it gave us the opportunity to talk to the crowd a bit and just enjoy a good morning of community fellowship as we caught up with old friends, met people from town, or from as far away as Kentucky!
After the 5k runners had been coming in for awhile and the 10k runners had started showing up as well, we started hearing a bit of concern regarding one of our contestants. The parents of a young runner, I heard someone say he was 5 years old, were starting to ask runners if they had seen their son on the course. He had set out to run the 5k, and they thought he should be back by then.
After a few minutes, a report was given that he had been spotted on the course safe and sound – WELL PAST the 5k turnaround point. He was running the 10k! I can tell you that there were a lot of people waiting there at the finish line to cheer this young man on as he crossed with a smile on his face. (With no hint of jealousy in my voice I can tell you he wasn’t even really out of breath!)
After he had a chance to reunite with Mom and Dad and all the questions got answered we found out what had happened. Apparently in the past, there has been a cone on the course to mark the turnaround point for the 5 and 10k runners, but this year the cones were not put out. When he reached the turnaround for his race, as one person said, “He just kept going!”
When all the racers were in and the awards were given out, there was an extra award given to that little guy. He was given a gold medal for being the first runner in his age group to finish a race he didn’t set out to run! His parents were understandably proud. Who wouldn’t be? As I thought about this kid who went the distance, I was reminded of a verse:
And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.
– Matthew 5:41
I can assure you that if you saw me on that course, you can safely assume that someone forced me into it. If I had to do it, I would do it, but I can tell you that I would not have done a single step more than I was forced to do. Running is not a fun activity for me, and I would definitely consider that the least amount of effort required would be more than enough.
Some days I get that way in other aspects of life too. I know that there is always room to do better. There is always room to improve. The thing is, it’s too easy to say, “I’m a good enough…
- Husband – After all, I come home every night and I don’t fool around on my wife. I tell her I love her. Isn’t that enough?
- Dad – I keep a roof over their heads. I never beat them. They have clothes to wear and food to eat. I tell them I love them. Isn’t that enough?
- Employee – I show up for work. I put in my time. Everything is getting done that needs to be getting done. Isn’t that enough?
- Friend – I talk to my buddies from time to time. I try not to take advantage of them. I follow them on Facebook. Isn’t that enough?
- Christian – I go to church. I read my Bible. I put money in the offering plate. Isn’t that enough?
By the standards of some people I know, these are all acceptable levels of performance in different areas. They would look at results like this and be happy with them. They did what was required of them. They did “Enough.” But is it really enough? Is that the kind of memory you want to leave in the minds of others?
Imagine your funeral:
“We are gathered here today in this place to remember the life of (insert your name here). He was an adequate man in most things. Always managed to do the minimum that was required of him. He is survived by his wife who says she will now be able to watch her television shows, but does admit that she will need to kill the occasional spider in the house. His children say that they will appreciate the extra car left behind, but will miss having him put gas in it.
Today he will be carried to his final resting place by 6 day laborers as his friends in attendance said that while it is good to see him off, he is not worth pulling a muscle. His employer has sent this lovely vase of flowers this morning after realizing he had not been at work the last three days as his work was being taken care of by two of the people in his department and somebody finally realized he was gone when it was his turn to bring in the donuts and they weren’t there.”
That’s not what I want. That is not a life that screams Relentless Growth! Relentless living is the kind of living that just breezes right past the turn around and keeps going. Now this little guys didn’t know he was about do a 10k, but he knew that there was a race to run, and that was what he was there to do! I have a race to run too! I’m not sure what the half-way point is of my life either, but I know that I don’t want to live in a way that is looking for the turn around. I want people to say, “He just kept going.”
How about you? Are you living an “adequate life”? Do you aspire for more? If you are, here are a few things I would suggest you do to make a positive change:
- Take a good, hard look at who you are. If you want to be really bold, ask your spouse or siblings evaluate you honestly. Get ready for the feedback and take it not as a criticism, but as a baseline to work against.
- Find a mentor. When you see a weakness in yourself, look for someone that is strong in that area and ask them for help to improve! A good mentor will always love to share what they know.
- Set a goal. Make it small at first. Taste a victory or two in an area. If you like to eat entire pies at a sitting, set a goal for 3/4 of a pie. Baby steps!
- Accountability is key. You need someone that can talk to you without dancing around the issues. Someone that can say, “Tom, 3/4 of a pie is not a goal that is going to help you no matter how you try to rationalize it.” Let them help you with your goals.
- Talk to God about it. Honestly, if you are going to try and make any lasting change in your life in an area that you are really struggling to grow in, you need help that is stronger than you. You need to know God and allow Him to be the strength in your decisions.
We all have a race ahead of us. We don’t know our half-way point, and we can’t see the finish line. Do you want to be the guy that ran a little while and said, “Enough.” or do you want to be that guy that just kept going? Go big. Be Relentless!