We All Have Talents

Thirty-eight years ago this month (May), I ran my first sub-five minute mile. I was a ninth-grader at Pointe South Junior High School in Riverdale, Georgia. I remember that day acutely because I had been trying to run a mile in under five minutes for the entire season, and I was successful on my final attempt, the County Championship. Coincidentally, that was also the first one mile race I ever lost. Isn’t it funny how God will keep our ego in check!

Fast forward thirty-eight years and I stood on the starting line of the Market Street Mile in Chattanooga, Tennessee. My goal? Run a mile in under five minutes. The gun went off, I felt great running straight to the front of the over-thirty race. I never looked back and finished the mile in 4:55, the same time I had run thirty-eight years ago the first time I had broken the five-minute barrier. Hopefully, that’s not my last time, but it may be. I don’t know what God has in store for me tomorrow.

God gave me a gift: Running. He has made my body in such a way that I am able to excel at something I love to do. But, if I use it strictly for my enjoyment, I am completely missing the point and I am dishonoring the very God who gave me the ability to do what I do. For about thirty-four of those years, that’s exactly what I did. But, as I have grown closer to my Lord, He has shown me ways to impact others through the sport of running. I don’t know what He has in store for me in the future, but I have seen enough to know that following His will is never a bad thing.

He has allowed me to travel down some dark paths. They were places I would never choose to go. They were disappointing in some cases and painful in others. But, in the end, I have seen what the mighty hand of God can do when I choose to trust Him and go down that path, regardless of the immediate appearance of the direction.

Why is that important? I would never have followed His path to Run for God if He had revealed the entire picture to me from the beginning. I’m pig-headed. In addition, I found that really tough circumstances can lead to great things. But, it only works when you do two things: 1) Make yourself available to be used by God in whatever your area of talent may be, and 2) Follow His path no matter where it takes you.

My talent happens to be running, but maybe you have a talent for comforting people. God wants to use that talent, maybe through visiting nursing homes, for example. Or, maybe you can fix anything and God would enjoy seeing you repairing things for people who need it. I have heard a lot of people say, “I don’t have a talent.” To that, I reply “poppycock!” I know a lady who’s talent is sending thoughtful notes through the mail. They never fail to make my day! There’s something God wants to use you for…

Do you think God gave you that talent just so you could use it for yourself? Colossians 3:23-24 says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” When you help others, you are serving the Lord! Jesus tells us this in Mathew 22:37-40, “And He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” When you honor God with your talents, you are proving your love for Him and for others, fulfilling the commandments that Jesus considers the most important.

What are you doing with your talent? Are you sharing it? If not, what are you waiting for?

Dean T.

I’m Not Qualified

Have you ever used the phrase, “I’m not qualified” or something similar? Maybe it’s “I can’t do that”, “I’ve never done that”, or “I don’t know what I’m doing when it comes to that”. Sure you have, we all have. Many times that is an appropriate answer, but sometimes it’s simply not.

I like photography, it’s one of my hobbies, and I feel I’m actually pretty good at it. I mean, I’m not National Geographic material, but I do understand what makes a good photo. I’ll never forget years ago someone asking me to shoot their wedding. I considered it for about 1-second and kindly said no. My response was, “I’m not qualified”. Sure I can shoot great pictures of flowers, kids, and sunsets, but all those things are easily replicated should something go wrong. If my battery goes dead on a wedding day, I can’t simply ask everyone to come back tomorrow for a redo.

The example above is very similar to why we here at Run for God do not have our own race timing system. By the numbers, it makes pretty good sense for us to make that investment, but we don’t. The reason is the same reason that I will not photograph a wedding. We need people who are qualified and specialize in the area of timing, people who do it every weekend and are known for getting it right, because just like that wedding, we can’t ask everyone to come back tomorrow to run that race.

Now I would argue that the answer, “I’m not qualified” is the correct answer to the scenarios above. But when is the answer, “I’m not qualified” misplaced? When it’s God calling!

When is the answer, “I’m not qualified” misplaced? When it’s God calling!

 Almost eight years ago God made a request of me that initially I dismissed. He was very clearly prompting me to start a running ministry. Number one, I wasn’t a minister. Number two; I wasn’t even that good of a runner. I mean there’s no way that a marginal runner who doesn’t know the Bible like he should, would ever be asked by God to start a running ministry. In my mind, God had tapped the wrong person for this job because obviously, “I’m not qualified”.

Think about this. Matthew was a tax collector, a pretty “worldly” job in those days. He went on to become the author of the first book in the New Testament. Peter was a fisherman, and went on to become the rock on which Jesus built the church. Paul was a persecutor of Christians, killing them just for being who they were. He went on to be one of the greatest Ambassadors of the faith authoring over a dozen books of the Bible.

God wants us to answer His call in any situation. “I’m not qualified” is never an acceptable answer. Many times God will use those who are not qualified, by worldly standards, to do great things, so that there is no other explanation for what happened than Him. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is a gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Even in our salvation, God calls us when we are not qualified.

Today, God may be calling you to do something that sounds crazy, something you may not be qualified for. Believe me, I get it. I’ve been there, and it seems as though God has me there often. But the only correct answer is, “Yes God”. It may be something as simple as talking to a coworker about Jesus, or going on a mission trip. Maybe it’s something a little more complicated like making a drastic life change because you know it’s what God wants.

Eight years ago God called me to start a running ministry. I felt inadequate, but I stepped outside my comfort zone. The result is Run for God. The credit can never come to myself, Holly, or any of our staff. The credit can only go to God, and to what He can do through someone who simply says, “I’m willing”.

Have a great day everyone!


When Two Worlds Collide

For those of you who don’t know, I wasn’t always a runner; I haven’t always been the Run for God guy. Nope, in fact, my profession since I graduated high school has been a general contractor. That’s right, I grew up on jobsites, swinging hammers, toting lumber, and hearing all the normal conversations that take place in this setting which is usually far from spiritual. I love being a contractor. I love taking nothing one day and building it into something beautiful the next. To me, it’s very satisfying.

Over the last several years I’ve been somewhat removed from that setting due to the growth of Run for God as well as the weak housing market. My partner and brother Jerome was very understanding in 2010 when I told him I felt the Lord calling me to start a ministry that we all know as Run for God.

As of late, I’ve been making a return to the job site. I’ve got great people around me at Run for God, which has allowed me to step back into a world that has dramatically changed. Or has it? You see, as I sit here typing this blog, I’m sitting in my truck on one of our job sites. There are dozers, dump trucks, men chewing and smoking tobacco, foul language, and the smell of fresh turned dirt permeating the air. I won’t forget walking up on a job a few weeks ago and a sub-contractor that I’d known since I was a kid was using words that I hadn’t been exposed to in some time. Had he changed? Nope, but I had.

God really began to open my eyes to the fact that He had changed me. He had taken me out of an environment that’s not always so Godly so that He could change my heart and place me back there to point people to him. Something I would have never done years ago.

So where does God have you right now? Do you shy away from those who don’t have a relationship with Christ because your fearful of what they might say, think, or do? If you don’t shy away, are you blending in? Or, are you shining the light of Jesus to the very people who may need to see it most?

Don’t try to compartmentalize God! Don’t try and show Him off in some areas and hide Him in others. Let the love of Jesus flow into all areas of your life and make it your goal to reach those whom you’d never expect to reach. Matthew 5:16 says to, “let your light shine before others.” Is your light always shining before others? Go ahead; let your worlds (church, family, job, recreation) collide! Who knows, maybe it’s stepping outside your comfort zone and teaching a Run for God class whereby your recreation and spiritual worlds collide?




adjective | ab•so•lute | \ˈab-sə-ˌlüt

: Free from imperfection. Pure, outright, unmitigated, free from mixture.

As many of you know, I coach a group of junior triathletes in my hometown. These kids and young adults are great. They’re a hard working, passionate, and coachable. Lately however, we’ve been dealing with the fact that our team has rules, and there are consequences for those rules not being followed. I have several rules on our team that tend to be the topic of much discussion from time to time. Rules like, no cell phones, be prepared, always listen, be ten minutes early, do your best, and always represent Jesus. I’m known for being firm on these rules and excuses just aren’t acceptable. I’m convinced that the pillars of who we are as a team should be “absolute” for anyone to associate those qualities with us. Notice that none of these rules have anything to do with being fast, but often being fast is the result.

Over the past few weeks I’ve noticed that one of my rules has begun to loose it’s meaning, and honestly, much of the blame can fall to me. It was the rule of being prepared. If you know anything about the sport of triathlon, you know that it takes a lot of preparation. There are three sports with three sets of gear, three environments in which you exercise, and simply put, three areas in which you can be unprepared. I’ve told our athletes that their gear bag should always be prepared for their sport when they show up for practice, and their sport is triathlon. It’s not swimming, biking, OR running, it’s swimming, biking, AND running. Sure, on most days we are only doing one discipline, but there are days when we as coaches decide to work on something else, and our athletes need to be ready. Long story short, I call it the One Bag Rule.

As I mentioned, this rule as of late, has begun to lose it’s meaning, and it’s because I had not done my part in making it “absolute”. Athletes were approaching me saying they had forgot this or that because it was in a different bag or because they didn’t know that we were doing a certain workout. I had allowed my lack of “absolute” consequences to begin eroding one of the things our team stood for, preparedness. It was time for a change!

I sat all of our athletes down and explained why I had always had the One Bag Rule and that going forward this rule would be “absolute”. There would be no excuses, and that failure to have all their gear in one bag at every practice will result in them watching everyone from the bench at that particular practice. Wouldn’t you know that at the very next practice three athletes showed up without some of their gear? They were devastated to know that while everyone was hitting the trails to run, they would be sitting at a picnic table silently while processing the fact that they would be doing their workout later that evening alone. To them it seemed harsh. To me, I could sense the judgment from being what seemed irrational. But at the end of the day, I fully understand one “absolute” truth about the sport of triathlon, your career, your education, and your life. If you are not prepared, you will not be successful. Vince Lombardi may have said it best when he said, “The will to win is not nearly as important as the will to prepare to win.” That is “absolute” truth.

So let me get to my point.

Society today says there is no “absolute” truth. It says that there is no black or white, but rather, gray is the safe place to be. It also suggests that rules are merely suggestions, and consequences, well there is no place for those. Society these days says to do what feels good, not what is right. It’s your life, live it how you want. Today, it almost seems that apathy is to be desired rather than avoided.

Let me be completely blunt about the growing trend of how society views “absolute” truth. It is wrong! It is wrong because along with “absolute” truth come “absolute” consequences.

If you’re apathetic to your job, it will lead to termination.

If you’re apathetic to your spouse, it will lead to misery or worse.

If you’re apathetic to your beliefs, it will lead to confusion.

If you’re apathetic to your schooling, it will lead to failure.

If you’re apathetic to your community, it will lead to displacement.

If you’re apathetic to Jesus Christ, it will lead to an eternity separated from Him.

God’s word is clear. It say’s in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or WHATEVER you do, do it for the glory of the Lord.” In short, this passage is saying that everything we do should be done in a way that brings honor and glory to God as if he were physically standing there watching us. How many times have you seen someone do something in someone’s honor? There is no apathy there! Whatever it is they are doing, they do it with everything they have. In 2014, a gentleman by the name of Bob Natoli, along with his son and son-in-law, held a fitness fundraiser in honor of a young lady who had been killed by a drunk driver. That day those three men broke 6 world records. No apathy there! These men set an example of how we should honor God in everything we do.

In closing, I would associate the word apathy with being lukewarm. You’re not hot, you’re not cold, and you really just don’t care. Jesus has a clear message for those who try and bring this attitude to a relationship with him. He says in Revelations 3:15, “I know your works, that you are neither cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of my mouth.” Jesus wants “absolute” followers.

Today, live your life free from apathy and rooted in absolute truth. Be hot toward the things that matter and cold toward the things that don’t. Stand firmly and proudly on the convictions you know to be “absolute” but the world says are irrational. Be a leader of Biblical principals and not a follower of worldly desires. Be the person who doesn’t participate in idle chatter so that when you do speak people listen. Be the person that people look at and say, “There’s something different about them, and I want it.” Be a reflection of Jesus Christ.