Going for Gold
My parents taught me to go for gold. They weren’t necessarily thinking of an Olympic gold medal, but they encouraged me to always try my best in everything that I did. For them, and for me today, going for gold means trying my very best.
The concept of going for gold is one reason why I love watching the Olympics. I get excited when athletes from my country do well, but I’m also impressed by the incredible dedication of all Olympic athletes. They have made many sacrifices to get to the level necessary to compete at the Olympic level. They are committed to going for gold.
I tried my best as a young hockey player. Some seasons were better than others, but one year I received my team’s “Most Valuable Player” award.
I tried my best as a seminary student and ended up winning my one and only gold medal – the Governor General’s Gold Medal for academic excellence.
Of course, doing my best sometimes resulted in failure, or at least not meeting the expectations I had for myself.
Those of us with perfectionistic tendencies sometimes think that we need to be perfect or almost perfect in all that we do. That’s impossible and places an unbearable burden on us that will often lead to discouragement and a sense of defeat. What I have found more helpful is to think about achieving excellence, which I define as doing our best with the resources at our disposal. When I pursue excellence, I’m going for gold.
Several years ago, our family visited Barkerville, BC, the main town in the Cariboo Gold Rush during the 1860s. We even did some gold panning at the restored historic site and picked up some souvenir gold flakes. Just like other gold rushes, some people gave up everything they had to try to find gold. Their obsession was known as gold fever.
I would suggest that going for gold in life is ultimately not about gold fever; it’s about God fever. It’s giving up everything to follow God and His purposes for our lives.
The Apostle Paul had God fever. He chose to focus all his energies on running the race of life well, so that he would receive the prize, the gold medal if you will, that God awards to those who are faithful to Him (Philippians 3:13-14; 2 Timothy 4:6-8). He summed up his desire to please His Lord in 1 Corinthians 9:24-26:
Remember that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize. You also must run in such a way that you will win. All athletes practice strict self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step.
The women’s marathon made its Olympic debut in the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. Many of the runners had already completed the race when Gabriela Andersen-Schiess, an Idaho ski instructor representing her native Switzerland, entered the arena for her final lap. Suffering from severe dehydration, she stumbled slowly around the track and courageously finished the race (you can watch a video of Gabriela’s heroic finish).
That’s determination. That’s trying your best. That’s going for gold. Let’s show that same kind of tenacity as we seek to live for God and carry out His purposes.
Randy Wollf is the Director of MinistryLift and Associate Professor of Practical Theology and Leadership Studies at MB Seminary. He loves to help others "go for gold" with their faith by providing ministry training on many topics. Check out MinistryLift's discipleship resources to learn how you and your church can train to live out God's purposes.