I was out on my daily run today when it hit me how much I was enjoying the sport. I’d like to share just some of the reasons why I love this activity … and maybe inspire you to begin running and discover the same joy I’ve found:
- Stress Reliever – If I’m stressed, I spend time in prayer and hit the pavement. Running has a way of flushing the system and getting rid of the excess, potentially harmful energy.
- Clear Thinking – For any number of reasons, my thoughts can get jumbled. Whether it is a time of discouragement or a situation with too many possible options, I’ve had times when my mind has struggled to think clearly. That’s when I’ll go for a run. As I prayerfully run, God often unclutters my mind and a solution presents itself.
- Challenging/Competition – The Apostle Paul wrote often about “running” and “racing.” One of my favorite passages concerning this subject is 1 Corinthians 9:24 where it says – “Run in such a way that you may win.” Whether it is the Christian life or the Christian in running shoes, we’re supposed to give our best in whatever we do! It is incredibly fun to run in races to try to beat my previous times (and pass a few other runners along the way).
- Discipline/Mental Toughness – If someone says that running is easy, they are either lying or they’ve never run. It’s not easy. If it was, I suspect that there would be many more people doing it. But the fact that it is difficult provides an opportunity to embrace pain and push through it. That mental toughness translates nicely into real life scenarios that require a strong mind as well as the willingness and ability to endure difficulty.
- Integrity/Positive Example – By virtue of the fact that I am a pastor/leader, there will always be folks who are watching me. They measure themselves to some extent by what they see in me. I believe that if I preach about the pursuit of integrity and self-discipline while I’m struggling to breathe with an over-sized gut, I lose credibility. In an age when so many Christians are fighting the battle of the bulge, pastors should not be seen as condoning that lifestyle by their own lack of self-discipline in eating and exercise. I want to be a positive example to others in what I say, what I do … and how I look.
- Fitness/Stewardship – Everything I call “mine” really belongs to the Lord. He has simply entrusted those things to my care. Just as my wife, children, ministry, talents, possessions, etc. belong to the Lord, so does my body. A very important point is that since these things are not mine but the Lord’s, I must take care of them. It is poor stewardship (sinful) when Christians do not take care of the body that the Lord has temporarily entrusted to them. But considered positively, there are tons of health benefits for those who run (lower cholesterol, lower risk of heart disease, stronger bones/muscles, maximized use of oxygen in the blood, etc.)
- Glorify God – Yes, running can glorify God (show Him how wonderful I think He is). In fact, Scripture says in 1 Corinthians 10:31 – “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Whether I eat, drink or run, I want to show my Lord that He is worthy of my best and that I am living a life of gratitude for what He has done for me.
- Enjoy it! – For all of the reasons given above (and many more), I absolutely enjoy running and anticipate that it will be a practice I enjoy for years to come.