The 2018 Winter Olympics have captivated the globe with stories of resilient athletic leaders going for gold! The Canadian women’s hockey team was a deflated crew as they received their silver medals in Gangneung, South Korea, Thursday, February 22, 2018. Jocelyn Larocque, a player on the Canadian team, refused to wear her silver medal for almost an hour. When asked why she couldn’t bear to put it on, the Globe and Mail reports she responded by saying, “Just hard… we were going for gold.” Years of training, discipline and sweat are necessary to compete with the elite. Gold is the goal and it requires sacrifice.
What does it mean to go for gold? Is it worth it?
Eight years ago I was a volunteer at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, along with thirty others. The experience was part of the Christian Leadership program we were enrolled in that year called Kaleo. I remember the exuberance of the Opening Ceremonies as the Olympic hopefuls proudly represented their countries. The pursuit of the podium was fierce for each one.
On the same day of the celebratory opening, the excitement was zapped from the Olympic atmosphere when one Georgian luger crashed and died during a training run. Nodar Kumaritashvili became the fourth athlete to die during Winter Olympic preparations and the seventh to die at either Summer or Winter Olympic games.
Gold was Nodar’s highest aim. He would never see the podium; He wouldn’t even compete. Were the years of training, discipline, and dedication a waste?
I don’t know.
Did Nodar embrace the process of becoming an Olympic athlete with gratitude, joy and personal growth or did he feel like he would never be fulfilled until he reached the podium? Did he live to get to the Olympic games or did the journey to the games give him life? I don’t know.
That year, my classmates and I learned that powerful leaders are always learners. The most enjoyable and best retained learning is not most profoundly motivated by the end result, but by the process of growing: transformation.
It takes faith and courage to set lofty goals, to develop a strategic plan and to “go for gold” in life. However, with eyes set on the future it’s easy to miss the life given today. Great goals can be met while the joy of experiencing relationship with Jesus is forfeited.
When the Israelites travelled in the desert, God provided new manna for each day. They couldn’t eat what was left from the day before and by the next day they would need fresh manna once again.
Leadership 101 says: Plan with the end in mind.
The Israelites did plan with the end in mind, following the fiery pillar each day, while hoping for the Promised Land ending.
Yes, plan with the end in mind but know that the end you have in mind might never come. While glorious ends may be in mind, remember to keep the present the priority. Richard Foster writes in his book, Prayer, “The only place God can bless us is right where we are, because that is the only place we are.”
The end you hope for might disappoint, disorient or confuse you. No one could have guessed Nodar’s life would end before he reached his great goal.
The Israelites’ were learning greater things than any accomplished goal could compare to. They learned to trust God while they tarried hot desert days. The manna in their hands was the daily provision that kept them going and encouraged their weary hearts.
Like the Israelites, you can’t store up manna from yesterday and you can’t eat tomorrow’s manna today. There is new freedom, joy and vitality available through intimacy with Jesus every day. Letting the character of God’s heart shape yours is the greatest goal of all and most beneficial to you, and to the world.
Plan with the end in mind and manna in hand and you will find gold that lasts into eternity.
Kaitlyn is a passionate joy chaser, beauty hunter and vibrant learner! Her commitment to experience and spread the love of God infuses her unique bi-vocational career as Educator and Pastor with innovation. Through her work, play, rest and writing, Kaitlyn endeavors to promote the growth, engagement and flourishing of all people.
Kaitlyn loves to gather people around dinner tables and God-given purposes. She fosters learning environments that cultivate resiliency, belonging and collaboration. She believes relationships are the heartbeat of any powerful life, worthwhile cause and thriving community. Kaitlyn is the founder of Mirror Mirror YXE, a ministry that aims to equip young women with empowered identity and belonging so they will impact the world in God-designed ways.
Kaitlyn grew up on a farm in rural Saskatchewan and adores the lively sunsets and wild canola fields that paint the prairies. She enjoys running paths along rivers, playing hockey with friends, steamed milk, bright spring flowers, painting, playing with her beautiful niece and learning from diverse people and voices.