Running is a hobby I’ve enjoyed since college. Eight years ago, I began running half marathons. In August, I signed up to train with the half marathon training team in Richmond. I thought it would be a good way to build new relationships.
We trained together every Saturday morning in 13 teams of 50-90 people. We gradually increased the number of miles we ran.
One Saturday my team was increasing its distance from six miles the previous week to eight miles. The coaches sent us an e-mail that showed the route for the day in map form and included bullet points describing the 29 turns/street changes we would make during our run.
At 62 years old, I was one of the slower people on our team. (God is faithful to help me remain humble.) So about four miles into our run, just three of us were running together. The others were way ahead of us. I reached into my pocket to check my directions/map and realized it must have fallen out. I was now dependent on my other two colleagues to help me know where and when to turn.
To cut to the chase, we missed a turn and ended up going too far before realizing we made a mistake. By the time we got back on track, one of my colleagues had quit and gone home. When the two of us made it back to the finish, we had run almost nine-and-a-half miles. We were tired and disappointed with our coaches. Like the Marines, our running slogan is supposedly “no man left behind.” We had been left way behind, and no one even seemed to know we were missing!
In the days that followed, I couldn’t “let go” of being left behind. Finally, one day I thought, Maybe God wants to teach me something from this experience.
The fact that none of our five coaches seemed to care enough to make sure all their people made the correct turns and made it back to the finish disturbed me. We could have been in need of medical attention, and they would have never known or been able to provide care.
As I prayed and thought about what God was saying to me, I realized that in ministry we also have the potential to leave behind some of our missionaries. The tendency is to celebrate those who are doing well and achieving new milestones as they raise funds and become cleared to report to their assignment.
But who is paying attention to those who’ve fallen behind? Who is checking on them to make sure they haven’t “missed a turn” somewhere along the way?
At the end of the book of Esther (one of my favorite books in the Bible), the Scriptures say this about Mordecai, Queen Esther’s uncle: “Mordecai…worked for the good of his people and spoke up for the welfare of all the Jews.” I think God wants me to speak up for the welfare of all Navigator staff—new staff who have not reached their minimum funding levels, but also veteran staff whose low funding puts pressure on their families and ministries.
I believe God wants me to be a coach who is in touch with those at the back of the pack and who provides encouragement, direction, and support as they pursue their God-given goals.
Please pray with me that I would never lose sight of those at the back of the pack and that God would use me to help them succeed and to feel cared for each step of the way!
Will you join me?
Contact Bob via email at bseibertnavs.@verizon.net.