May 10, 2013
What is Your Pace?
“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win” (1 Corinthians 9:24).
Friend to Friend
Do you ever wonder if you are too busy as a couple, as a family – or if your plate is fuller than God might have intended for you as an individual? We each have our own God given life pace for which God has designed us. One pace is not right or wrong, because everyone has a pace at which he/she functions best. Bicycles have gears on them so you can find the right pace regardless of the terrain you are riding on, and in the verse above the writer references track and field races. A participant in a 100 yard dash will sprint to the finish, and a cross country runner, or marathoner will jog out a consistent, but not frenetic, pace. To win, they need to run their race at their pace. It will be less stressful if each person in your family knows his or her pace or the speed at which they function best at living life. In my husband Bill’s newest book, 10 Best Decisions a Man Can Make, he shares an easy-to-use way to identify and evaluate your pace by using five categories of vehicles that describe the characteristics for the speed at which each of us can live: The Muscle Car, The Sports Car, The Semi, The Mail Truck and The Tractor. (Take time to do this activity on a date, with your children around a meal, or with friends over coffee. It makes for some interesting conversation! It also leads to greater understanding and fewer arguments as you get to know those you love better.)
The Muscle Car
Muscle cars have big engines and are designed to go in a straight line with an abundance of pull and dramatic speed. These are the people who like to go fast and stay focused forward, charging hard toward goals. They often make quick decisions, and pursue big opportunities. A Biblical example would be Paul, the apostle who became a believer and quickly turned into a prolific church planter.
The Sports Car
Some of you move more like sports cars. These vehicles are fun, agile and quick. They prefer roads that have lots of turns and quick transitions. They live for the surprise around the next corner of life. They tend to be spontaneous in decision-making and can change directions quickly to take advantage of what they see is a great opportunity. A Biblical example is Philip who was on his way to one city when God sent him in a completely different direction so someone could hear about the love of God.
Some people operate in life more like a semi truck. These people start and stop slowly because they prefer to plan out life. They maintain a steady and even pace because they often carry a great amount of faithful day in and day out type of responsibility. They do not like quick change; they prefer to take time to navigate course corrections. A Biblical example is Martha, who handled most of the hospitality for a house full of Jesus’ followers on a daily basis.
The Mail Truck
These people have a sign on their backs, “Makes Frequent Stops.” They are intensely interested in individuals and are peaceful even if life is consistently interrupted by conversations, projects and helping people. Life has a route, but their pace is slower because they are constantly checking on the people in their world and their well-being. A Biblical example would be Barnabas who set aside his agenda to take on John Mark as a mentoring project until John Mark was mature and ready to lead again.
Tractors are incredibly useful but they move slowly. These are people who dig in their heels if pushed to accomplish tasks too fast. These folks also do not enjoy sharp turns and tend to work at a slower, even pace, even if the schedule suggests they should speed up to make a deadline. A Biblical example might be Ruth who daily went to the grain fields to glean (a slow, steady task) in order to provide for her and her mother-in-law.
Which of the five vehicles best represents the pace at which you like to live? In our family, I (Pam) am a speedy, spontaneous sports car; Bill is a faithful, people-oriented mail truck. We have one son who is like me, one who is a muscle car and another who is a semi. Before I recognized that each person’s pace is a God-given gift for that person to live out their unique calling in life, I used to be frustrated that my “semi” slowed down our family’s ability to get out the door. And Bill, whose natural pace as a mail truck is slower than mine, could get frustrated with me, feeling pulled away from people and dragged through life at a pace where deep meaningful conversations were harder to accomplish. Because two of us are sports cars, the others in the family have learned to trust our instincts for seizing an opportunity because their lives sometimes become much more fun or interesting because of our “Let’s try this NOW!” And when a task hits our family, like a broken washing machine, my engineer semi is just the man for the job because it requires a diligent, even, focused pace. On family vacations, we have a family meeting and decide what the family pace will be during our time together. And as our sons have married, knowing my daughter-in-laws’ life paces helps avoid misunderstandings or hurt feelings.
Lord, help me figure out my own pace and live in congruence with the way You wired me. Help me not compare myself in a negative way to others because of the pace I prefer to live life. Also, help me not be frustrated with those in my world when they run at the pace You created them to live their lives. Give us a spirit of appreciation and co-operation.
In Jesus’ name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Set aside time this week, or even today, to discuss the pace of life with the people you love. Affirm each of them with a compliment, noting that God’s pace inside each person is exactly the way God created him or her. Then dialogue on how to compromise to find a family pace that works when the whole group is gathered together.
More from the Girlfriends
Bill and Pam Farrel are relationship experts, authors of over 38 books includingbest selling Men Are Like Waffles, Women are Like Spaghetti, and this new book, 10 Best Decisions a Man Can Make(and the accompanying DVD series). Resources (including a free articles page) by the Farrels can be found at www.Love-Wise.com
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