“Run in such a way as to get the prize.” – 1 Corinthians 9:24
One of my favorite books by the popular writer and speaker Brené Brown, is a bestseller called Daring Greatly, a phrase borrowed from a speech given by Teddy Roosevelt back in 1910. Here’s a brief excerpt: “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again. . . who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails daring greatly. . . .”
Tee and I were competing in a 5k race recently when at mile two a lady passed us who appeared to be around our age. Soon, however, we caught up and passed her. And back and forth it went the rest of the race. I quickly sensed what was going on and informed my beloved spouse, “that lady is your competition,” except she pretended to ignore me as if she either didn’t believe me or didn’t care. But I knew better, as I could see her muscles subtly tense up, and with the finish-line in sight her pace starting to accelerate. As her encourager I was forced to step up my pace as well. Eventually her competitor fell further behind, allowing Tee to finish first in her age category. But it wasn’t so much the gold medal that made me proud of my spouse; rather it was, with that quiet competitive spirit of hers, having the courage to step into the arena and “daring greatly.”
It reminded me of my mom who was also a quiet competitor. She loved games – cards, dominoes, bridge, board games, even golf and fishing. One of my favorite memories of her occurred in her last days when she was suffering with cancer. One day the hospice care facility, which provided physical therapy to keep her going as long as possible, engaged her in a domino match with a gentleman who was obviously in a similar circumstance. With that competitive gleam in her eyes as she faced off with her opponent, I could see what was coming. Poor guy didn’t stand a chance. Mom died just two weeks later, finishing her life the way she had always lived it – “daring greatly”!
Besides the sport of it, God must surely have instilled a spirit of competition in human nature for other reasons, perhaps as a way to bring out the best in us, inspiring us to be more and accomplish more than we ever imagined – to “Run in such a way as to get the prize,” – or as Teddy Roosevelt and Brené Brown would say, “daring greatly.”