Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.

1 Timothy 4:12

 

Two runners enjoying a jog.I am a runner.

I say that timidly, because I don’t want you to misinterpret my words. I don’t want you to think I’m fast, or that I have a ton of endurance, or that I plan to sign up for any 5Ks anytime soon.

I say I am a runner in the same way I used to say, “I am a writer.”

Others called me a writer long before I did. I guess I thought there was some invisible threshold one had to cross before qualifying as a bona fide writer. It was a sacred word, reserved for people like C.S. Lewis, Lorraine Hansberry, Howard Thurman, or Jane Austen. However, the fact of the matter is that I experienced great joy when I wrote, and I still do.

Most importantly, however, is that I don’t write like Lewis, or Hansberry, Thurman or Austen. As much as I might admire their literary voices, their voices are theirs, and theirs alone. In the same way, my literary voice is mine alone. When I finally realized this, I slowly began to call myself a Writer. I write, and when I do, I take great joy in it.

In the same way Timothy needed to be reminded that his gift was no less significant because of his youth, we often need to be reminded not to measure our gifts against the standards and expectations set for others. In a world that is stylized and filtered to the max (hello, social media!) and that rarely gives prizes for getting it done, it’s easy to miss out on the experience of simply doing something because it brings us joy and then letting our joy be praise to God.

Just the other day, I realized, finally, that I am a runner. I’m no Florence Griffith Joyner or Jackie Joyner Kersee. I will never compete in the Olympics or run a marathon. But when I run (stopping from time to time to walk), I take great joy in it. I delight in a body that moves freely (most of the time) through time and space. I enjoy finding my groove. I appreciate the runner’s high I’m sometimes able to experience when the run is going well. But, I’ve stopped comparing myself to other runners out there. I admire them and, while I am not them, that doesn’t diminish the fact that I am a runner, and I enjoy it. When I run, I am grateful to God alone for the beat of my heart, the sweat on my brow, and the pavement beneath my feet. And my running becomes an act of worshipping the One who makes it possible.

QUESTION TO CONSIDER:

What do you enjoy doing, even though you might not be very good at it? How does this talent, hobby, or practice make you feel close to God?

PRAYER:

Thank you for fun experiences that bring me joy. Keep me from comparing my skills to those of others who are better than me. Instead, help me to admire and celebrate their gifts with thanksgiving and grace. Show me the value of not taking myself so seriously in all things. Let me embrace my talents and gifts with gusto and joy, knowing all good things come from you. Amen.

 

Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentaryGod’s Creation Is Good (1 Timothy 4:1–5)

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