The potholes that prevent us from winning

[notice]A monthly Christian sport column by Cobus Kruger, a professional triathlete who is passionate about evangelism, leadership and community development through sport.[/notice]

It is not about the start, it is for sure about the finish. Not too long ago I had a profound and life changing experience through one of my triathlon races. I started the race with the goal of winning the total race event. I began with a real strong swim, where I came out of the water with the first pack of three swimmers. Then I had a fast transition and was first onto the bike. I biked really strongly and kept ahead of the rest of the competitors. I was first off the bike at the start of the running and leg well through the first two laps of a 4 lap, 10km run.

Then it happened at the 7km mark into the run. I started to feel really tired and my pace slowed down considerably. During the last 3km of that race I dropped from a winning position to 6th place. It is never a good feeling if you lead a race for about 97% of the time and then lose your lead in the last 3% of the battle.

The next day when I did my evaluation of what went wrong in the race I found a few things that the Holy Spirit showed me. He reminded me of 1 Cor 9:24-27  — 24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. 

These things are not only applicable to the race, but also apply to our lives, vision and ministries.

So what went wrong?

1) Nutrition
One of the potholes was nutrition. You see, one of the worst feelings you can have in a triathlon is when you just don’t have energy to push anymore, especially at the end of a race. If you didn’t store up some energy with good nutrition before the swim and while doing the bike leg, then at some stage you will feel like you just don’t have energy to push on anymore. In exactly the same way we need good nutrition in our lives and spiritual lives. We need to feed our spirit, day by day with the living water of the Word (Jesus) through spending time with God through the Holy Spirit. That is how we will finish strong in our journey and calling. And that’s how we will not be disqualified and be able to sustain our passion and energy until the end of our race.

2) Focus shifted from my own race to the other racers
When you need to swim, bike and run fast, then one of the most important things is to stay focused on what you are doing and to be aware of whether you are swimming, cycling or running correctly. In this race I had that focus right in the swim and the bike leg, but as soon as I felt tired in that run leg, I started to focus more on the chasers’ progress than on my own leg speed and form. Because my focus shifted I started to run off form, my run speed automatically dropped and that is how I lost this race. This is a pothole that I see a lot of believers stumble on as they follow God’s calling on their lives. People start to look at the success of others, and focus on the progress and dreams of other and in the process they lose their focus on the prime calling that God has given them as individuals. If you are tired and feel you cannot go on, start to refocus on your prime Godly calling and vision and press forward into that.

3) Started to run to stay ahead, rather than to win the race
One of the things that also took my focus away in this race was that I started to run faster out of fear of losing my lead, rather than to win the race. Let me explain. As I saw the gentlemen in the second position coming closer and closer I thought that I needed to run faster and faster. And as I tried to run faster and faster I lost my running form, and no longer ran efficiently This is a pothole that I see allot of people stumble over as their ministries and callings grow. They begin to try to stay ahead of another person or ministry, or they become afraid that the other person or ministry will grow bigger and stronger than their ministry. By doing this they lose focus on what they are called to do as individuals and as a ministry serving the Kingdom of God. You see, although we talk about winning, we only win if the Kingdom of God is growing, and the Kingdom of God grows best when all our ministries and callings are focused on serving God and not on competing with each other. Let’s keep our focus on our calling to win, as part of God’s Kingdom team It is not our ministry at the end, its Gods Ministry, we just play a part in it.

A few weeks later I had another big triathlon race that I could race to win. I applied the points that I learned and I won that race. All Glory to God! But why do I mention this race? The reason is that we should not stop our journey in life when we don’t succeed and win. We should learn and go and change things in our lives and take action to go for the win in the next one. God needs to be glorified in our lives, ministries and passions. So let’s strive to be winners for the sake of God’s Kingdom…..

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  1. Zithobile Kolweni

    Great article.

  2. Dankie Cobus, great artikel, op geestelike vlak maar ook vir iemand wat onlangs sy eerste half marathon gedoen het! Ek stuur die artikel beslis aan.