Five years ago I was given a bicycle by my family for Father’s Day. I began to explore our city’s public trail system and found that I enjoyed this form of exercise. Five years, two bike upgrades and a lot of miles later, my mental health is better and I’m in much better physical shape. I gradually began to push myself to take longer rides, leave the People Trail for county roads, and learn more about road cycling. In time the challenge of attempting a century ride began to creep into my thinking.
A century ride is a cycling ride of 100 miles or more completed within 12 hours, and is considered something of a rite of passage in the world of recreational cycling. Think marathon for a runner. While not at all impossible, attempting such a feat does require some preparation and training – which, in turn, takes time. So, blessed with a Sabbatical this summer, and the time to train, I set a bucket list goal of completing my first (and quite possibly only) century ride.
There is a lot of time to think over a seven hour day, while on a bike, riding 100 miles. Thoughts like, “Why did I think this was a good idea?” and “What else could I be doing today?” give way as the miles pass by to more important considerations. “When I finish this goal, what will be next?”
Are you a goal setter? I have always been one to set goals. I’ve set educational goals, professional goals, recreational goals, reading goals, writing goals – you name it. But why? Naming a goal has been a way I have held myself accountable toward progress, growth and achievement. The goal becomes a standard by which to measure those things (progress, growth & achievement). I have not always met my goals, but having a goal has almost always motivated me to work toward it.
What’s the equivalent of a century ride, or running a marathon, or visiting every MLB ballpark or National Park in the USA, for one who follows Christ? Some might say: Reading the Bible cover to cover, or sharing one’s testimony with at least 12 people in the next year, or participation in a short-term mission trip, or leading a Grow Group. It differs for each one of us. Some might find the idea of setting a goal related to faith, or faith development, a foreign concept. Yet, if faith is about progress, growth and achievement (in some form or other) then perhaps having goals associated with our faith is not such a bad idea.
One of my goals in late 2007 when I began serving as pastor at the First Baptist Church of Columbus, IN was to have a long tenure with the church as pastor and people. I’ve kept that goal in mind as the years, the challenges and the opportunities have come. This November we will observe our 11th Anniversary, for which I am grateful.
I would love to know what your goals are for your faith, your life, and your participation in the church. Remember these words from Paul in Philippians 4:13: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. That verse will get you through a few miles of a century ride, and more than a few tough days in life.