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A Sprinter's Mentality

  • Sue Brage Contributing Writer
  • 2006 7 Jul
A Sprinter's Mentality

"...Run [your race] that you may lay hold [of the prize] and make it yours. Now every athlete who goes into training conducts himself temperately and restricts himself in all things. They do it to win a wreath that will soon wither, but we [do it to receive a crown of eternal blessedness] that cannot wither." (I Corinthians 9:24-25)

I heard a very appropriate saying this morning: Life is not a sprint, it's a marathon. I think we can say the same thing about homeschooling!

When we first started homeschooling, we may not have understood this concept. Perhaps we thought, we'll just do it for one year and see what happens. Perhaps we even expected a short-term return on our efforts.
I know I did. Somehow I must have expected my children to lavish appreciation and praise on me for my sacrifice, my devotion, and my willingness to educate them at home. But you know what happened? They complained. They pouted. They challenged me and made my life miserable, for a period of time. I felt completely unappreciated and under-lavished. I could have quit at any time, if I was looking for short-term rewards; if I'd had a sprinter's mentality.

What is the sprinter's mentality? That's when you start off filled with enthusiasm and expectations, shoot off like a dart when the gun goes off, and then...when you can't see the finish line...or it's harder than you expected...or you get tired, you give up. Sprinters are geared for short distances, not the long haul. We need to have the mindset of the distance runner.

The distance runner prepares himself for the obstacles, the fatigue, and the inevitable "wall" he will face. While the sprinter runs at a quick pace, leaving all his (or her) energy on the track, the marathon runner knows to pace himself and to push through the wall when necessary. Much of the battle is mental. I'm sure (although I've never actually run a marathon) that thoughts of defeat and fatigue must whisper in a runner's ears, especially when there is no one around to cheer them on.

You may think, "Well, what does that have to do with homeschooling?" Everything! You are in this race to finish strong, right? You want to reach your finish line and say with the Apostle Paul, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith" (II Timothy 4:7 NKJ). If so, then our mindset must mimic the marathon runner! We can't be surprised when we face obstacles, or our course gets challenging. Of course it's challenging--just look at the reward. Do you think home educating our children, raising them to fulfill God's call on their lives, and be ready to influence their generation would come with no price?

To finish the race, we must be determined to approach homeschooling with a long-distance mindset. Then we must "embrace the race;" that is, to enjoy the process. Don't be surprised or disappointed when stuff happens, and you are disappointed. That doesn't mean the race is over! It just means you need to keep running.  All those things I hoped for from homeschooling did happen. But not the first year...or the second...but by the end, I had two boys who understood the value of their home education and their family, and appreciated all we had endured. That is the best crown a mother could hope for.


A homeschooler for over 14 years, Sue Brage is known as "The Homeschool Encourager." She speaks and writes to hundreds of homeschoolers and currently writes a weekly email devotional called Weekly Word.  To receive your free e-devotional, or for more information about her ministry, please visit her website, www.homeschool-encourager.com.

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