Give me a biblical vision of success any day. It’s not easy to live out, but centered and slower, living the greatness to which the Bible calls me helps downplay the crazy craving for the stuff of the world that sends me racing off in all directions, and keeps me from pointing my kids to do the same. — Ann Kroeker
Over the weekend, I slipped away from puppy care (read: indentured servitude!) just long enough to go to church then to the gym to run a couple of miles on the treadmill. Since Tilly came to live with me, I haven’t had the time to run as usual, and so it was a nice break.
It was also a nice reminder that if I don’t run regularly, running is not quite so fun. Needless to say, I was huffing and puffing, sweating profusely and looking forward to being done. My glasses kept slipping down my nose, so I decided to just take them off and run near-sighted.
While I was running toward the fuzzy nothingness, I thought to myself, who said you need to keep your eye on a goal in order to stay motivated in life? I couldn’t see anything, and I was still running. But then I realized, I wasn’t actually running toward anything. I was stuck in the same place, going through the motions of progress and achievement, but in reality, not going anywhere.
This picture of running blindly to nowhere reminds me of chapter 4 of Ann Kroeker‘s Not So Fast: Slow-Down Solutions for Frenzied Families. There, she asks the underlying question of all our fast-paced busyness: what are we trying to achieve?
For families, this is a poignant question because the hectic schedule is not just about the success of an individual, it’s also about the success of a family, of parents AND children. When we measure success by the number of items on our to-do list, though, aren’t we really setting up ourselves, and our children, for failure?
The image of me on the treadmill running blindly to nowhere is even more relevant for singles, though. In a family, one person can live near-sighted, and it is not so dangerous or misleading because there are others to help remind her of the goal. For the single person, running without her glasses means just as surely as she is running nowhere, eventually, she will get there. Nowhere.
Part of slowing down for me, then, must surely mean not that I don’t run. But that I run with my glasses on, with a purpose, and that I make sure there are people around me, even if they don’t live in my house, who can look out for me when I take my glasses off. Training with a team rather than a treadmill.
Slowing down also means that I need to work on defining what it is I am running toward, what God says is successful, not just what I think or what the world thinks. In her book, Ann reminds us what we all already know: “the Bible’s call to greatness doesn’t look at all like the world’s success – that it is, in fact, pretty much the opposite . . . . To become great, be a servant. To be first, be a slave. He who is least is the greatest.”
This is the version of greatness we need to teach our children, both with words and habits. But it’s also the version of greatness we need to set our sights on ourselves, too.
When I wipe away the sweat from my forehead, polish away the smears from the lenses, and put those glasses back on my face where they belong, this is the success I want to run toward. A life that’s not all about me.
What about you? What are you running toward today? Can you see it clearly? Are there others around to help you if you can’t?