If you run enough races or do any event repeatedly, you’re likely to find at least one person or occurrence to make the event memorable. I remember one of my first runs when my dad came to support me. That meant the world to me. Another time, a guy stuck in traffic as us marathoners slogged passed him around the 22nd mile, shouted out of his car window how slow we were and that the race was already over. Yup, he said that, and I remember it twenty years later. And I recall the race in which, a 200 lb. Blood Hound named Earl, flew past my husband and me in a 10K. Earl completely left us in his dust. We still laugh about being beaten by a blood hound.

Most recently I ran a 5K race and a young boy ran at about the same pace as me. When I run a race, I’m not chatty. I push hard to try to win my age bracket and this race was no different. We kept quiet but even, then he’d pass me. He seemed to slow around corners, and I’d take the lead only to have him pass me again. This kept on for the first two miles. When we turned the corner on the final mile, I knew it was straight downhill from there and I wanted to run all out, so I passed him around the corner and shouted that he was a good runner. He thanked me for helping him pace. For helping him what? Me? I had no idea. I was just running.

As I sprinted toward the end, my little running buddy flew past me around the corner. I cheered him on as he cruised over the finish line ahead of me.

During the award ceremony I saw him jump off the platform with a medal around his neck and a grin spanning from ear to ear! I ran over to congratulate him and found out he had won a bronze medal in his age bracket! I was so proud of him and I hardly knew him!

I learned a few things from my running buddy that day. First, is to not keep completely to myself in these races, but to offer encouragement when I can. I was thankful for our brief words heading into that final mile. I was glad to be able to offer a few words of encouragement for him and to hear that I’d helped him pace, because apparently, he was truly pushing to win as well.

The more important thing I learned from him is to run my race. If I had slowed down to make conversation with him in the race, I would have done both of us a disservice. He needed me to run my race so he could pace himself. Who knew? We both wanted to push ourselves and see how fast we could run and we both snagged medals that day, as I won second in the master’s bracket (the older person bracket, but I’m okay with that!)

So, my friends, run your races. I’m not talking about just running, but whatever the Lord has called you to do, do it and do it well. Offer encouragement along the way and do what the Lord called you to do. Work hard, train hard, get the experience, education, or whatever training you need and do it to the best of your ability. Because you see, it’s not necessarily about you. God calls His children to a task in order that others may benefit, as well.

Start that company, get the degree, help that neighbor, volunteer, join the committee. Whatever the Lord places on your heart, try to do your best. Other people may need you to do it because it may help them get to where the Lord is calling them. We are all here to help each other and you may be the memorable person in another person’s life like my little running buddy was to me that day. Oh, and offer words of encouragement along the way, not words of discouragement. Because whatever you say may be remembered 20 years down the road…

Be strong and courageous and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you… 1 Chronicles 28:20