Winning vs. Finishing

Last Saturday I ran the 1/2 marathon here in Nashville.

I started strong.  I was ready to run.  I had a goal to beat my best time.  I was nervous, excited and goal-minded.

But about half way through the race I hit a wall and couldn’t recover.  I may have started too strong.  It could be because I hadn’t gotten good rest that week.  It may have just been a bad day… but, for whatever reason I wasn’t going to make my goal.

I wasn’t going to “win”.

My definition of winning for that day was meeting the goal I had set for myself.  But I didn’t make that goal… didn’t even come close.

I finished but I didn’t “win” and I felt pretty defeated because of it.

I think this happens a lot in life.

As I was reflecting on a few projects that I’m in the middle of, I wondered why some of them don’t feel like “wins” to me.  I should feel a huge sense of accomplishment when some of these things get done, but what I’ve discovered is that if they took longer than I expected or turned out differently than I planned, I just feel like I’ve finished rather than I’ve won.

There’s a big difference for me between winning and finishing.

When I “win” I feel:

  • accomplished
  • strong
  • competent
  • successful
  • ready to do more

When I just “finish” I feel:

  • tired
  • unmotivated
  • emotionally spent
  • hoping I never have to do that again

Winning vs. finishing is all about perspective.  It’s perspective on how and why I’m doing whatever I’m doing.  If I’m operating in my own strength with little reliance on God, I tend to find myself just “finishing” more often.  But when I recognize I can’t do it on my own… that I need God’s strength for the task ahead… when I trust in His guidance and His power, “wins” are a lot more common.

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

Do you find yourself “winning” or just “finishing” most days?  Are you trusting in God’s strength or your own?