Are you a Looker?

Last week in the Blog Post “Perseverance” I talked about how sometimes we go to triathlons and see a person walk up with the best bike, wearing the best clothes, talking the best game, and finishing with one of the worst times. I like to call them “lookers”. From the outside it seems as though they are the best in their field, they talk as if they are the best in the field, like they have it all together, but in reality, they just look the part. Now, it’s not just triathlons where we find these seemingly unique humans, we find them everywhere. The fishing looker, the hunting looker, the golfing looker, or the running looker. If you’re a golfer, then you know the guy who has the best clubs, the best club membership, and the best clothes, but each time he steps up to the tee he drives it thirty yards right into the woods, then continues on as he blames the ball rather than his lack of skill. He’s a looker!

Are you guilty of being a looker? I believe at times we all are. We want to be the best at whatever we’re doing, but often we don’t have the time or discipline to commit to whatever it is that we want to be the best at. Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book several years ago called Outliers and in this book he discussed the 10,000-hour principal. The principal is that 10,000 hours of “deliberate practice” is needed to become world-class at anything. Want to become a world-class guitarist, 10,000 hours, world-class doctor, 10,000 hours, world-class triathlete, 10,000 hours. You get the point. While this principal has been challenged in some areas, I feel that it’s safe to say that if you want to become world-class at something it takes years of hard work and perseverance.

So is it wrong to want to look the part of being world-class? Maybe, maybe not. It depends on the message your sending and the motive behind your actions. I’ll be honest; I have a really nice road bike. I love cycling, I love my bike, and I made a decision to purchase a bike that is more than what I need. My bike does not slow me down; in fact, I’m probably one of the slower athletes riding that kind of bike. I’m honest about my motives and the reason I have a nice bike. One is because I don’t want to mislead people, and two, because the athletes that I coach often remind me of my lack of speed as they leave me in their dust on their less expensive bikes.

We must be careful though. Many times a sense of arrogance can come along with being a looker. We want people to think that we are something we’re not and we’ll do anything to make that perception seem like reality.

Unfortunately one group who falls into this trap often is Christians. We get up every Sunday morning, put on our best Sunday clothes, grab our two-hundred dollar Bible that looks brand new, and head out the door. We walk into the church as if everything is perfect, laugh and joke with our friends, amen during the pastor’s sermon, and we never give even the slightest hint that inside our world is crumbling.

Here is where being a “looker” becomes dangerous. It’s dangerous, because unlike my biking abilities that are on display for all my athletes to keep me humble, we often try to hide what’s really going on. As a Christian, the evil one wants nothing more than to silence us. Silence makes us feel that we are the only one who is dealing with this struggle. Silence tends to drive us away from others who “seem” to have it all together. Silence makes us a hypocrite in the eyes of those who actually know our struggles but see the persona that we try to display. Silence can often lead you away from a God who wants nothing more than to make you world-class.

Think about the different areas of your life and take inventory. Take a close look at the image you portray. Is it fake, or is it REAL? Are you wanting to make everyone think you are world class, or are you wanting to look world class with the full humble understanding that you’re not there yet.

While on this earth, we, as Christians, have the ability to “look” like Jesus. Why? Because His word tells us that we, “have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” Galatians 2:20. In the same way that I have a bike that can allow me to be fast but I have a set of legs that must be trained in order to be fast, I have a Savior who lives in me that allows me to reflect Him to a lost and dying world, but I must train the body to do so.

It’s OK to “look” the part as long as long as you can “be” the part, and if you can’t be the part, then just be honest about why you want to “look” the part.



The other day I came across a quote that really made me stop and think. That’s really hard to do in the age of social media. It seems that everyone is posting motivational quotes these days, but this one really caught my attention. The quote was simply…

“In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins, not through strength but by perseverance.”

If you really stop and think about this quote for a moment you will quickly see just how true it is and how it can be applied to so many areas of our life.

I have the honor of coaching several kids and young adults in the sport of triathlon and we talk about this principal often. It’s the principal that in the long run, consistent hard work will trump pure strength and talent every time. Over the years, many people have come up and ask me how our triathletes are so fast. They want to know the secret workouts, the secret nutrition tip, or the top-secret gear we use to get so much speed out of these kids.

My answer is always that same, but it rarely satisfies those asking the question. Work ethic. Consistent hard work is what we teach our athletes. Some of our athletes are ranked among the fastest triathletes in the nation, and it seems as though they stay there year after year, sometimes gaining in position. But why? Why is it that some athletes slowly rise in their rankings through the years, and some come on the scene seemingly out of nowhere, rise to the top, and then as fast as they showed up, they’re gone?

In my opinion, it’s because they never learned the values of consistency, perseverance, and patience. Sadly this is becoming more and more common in our society. Kids, or should I say the parents of kids, want to become the next Michael Jordan or Babe Ruth before the age of ten. They have some talent and before you know it, they are on multiple travel teams, competing every single weekend with local or regional success, then they take a step out on the national stage and all of a sudden they are burned out, or they just don’t like the sport anymore. Honestly, I think it’s deeper than that. I think many times they’re told how good they are, how talented they are, how they’re going to do great things, all of which may be true, but they were never prepared for the realization that there are thousands of other kids like them and that the true test is not in their strength but rather in their ability to persevere.

If you’ve ever been to one of our triathlon practices, you’ll begin to pick up on a few things that I say often. One thing that I tell our Elite athletes is that when they show up for a race, everyone is fast, and everyone wants to win, but it is those who have learned that strength and talent will only take you so far, that win in the long run. Consistency, perseverance, and patience are the virtues of a true champion. When water encounters an obstacle it creates an eddy. It slows down, often reverses course, makes adjustments, and carries on. It’s consistent perseverance that makes it possible for streams to carve their way through rock to rivers.

What about our spiritual lives? Does the quote above give any insight on how we should view our walk with Christ? You bet!

How many times do we get on a “spiritual roll”? How many times do we sign up for that “spiritual little league travel team”? Many times we are no different than that ten-year-old kid who realizes there’s a lot more work than they thought to becoming a major leaguer.

Our major league is Heaven, and we are called to train day in and day out until we get there. What is our training? Pointing people to Jesus Christ. It’s not seeing how many books of the Bible you can read, how much education you can get, or even how many Jesus stickers you can put on your car. Now don’t get me wrong, those are great tools to have, but they are just that, they are tools.

It’s no different than in the sport of triathlon. We see people at every race who have the best bike, the best looking clothes; they just “look” fast. Then they start the race, and it’s obvious their ten thousand dollar bike might as well be a ten-dollar bike because they haven’t put in the training. They put their focus on having the best tools, not the virtues of persistence in training!

Today, think about where your spiritual focus is.

Is it in your talents? How can I become a “super-christian” over night?

Is it in your tools? How much knowledge can I accumulate?

Or is it in your training? How can I tell someone about Jesus Christ today?

Talents and tools are great things to have, but without consistent training, they are worthless!

Have a great day everyone.