Chicago Marathon: Looking Back (Part 2)

Encouragement Changes Everything

“You need to be aware of what others are doing, applaud their efforts, acknowledge their successes, and encourage them in their pursuits. When we all help one another, everybody wins.”

-Jim Stovall

From 6:30 a.m. on Pastor Larry and I waited with 31,000 other people for the start of the race. The entire environment was unbelievable…31,000+ people all with one goal and one mission: to finish the 26.2 mile course. Some people were veterans trying to set personal records while others were running their first marathon determined to cross the finish line. What was amazing was when you had everyone united with the goal of finishing, suddenly you went from 31,000+ people with individual goals to a 31,000+ person team focused on encouraging one another to finish.

From before the starting line, along the whole 26.2 miles , and beyond the finish line there were thousands of fans cheering you on! In the beginning of the race I saw thousands of people with their names written in marker on their calves and arms…. I had no idea why until the race started. It was so other people can encourage them! It was amazing to me to hear the fans cheer for everyone (not just the people they came to see).

Throughout the whole race I saw churches, businesses, and families all cheering on the 31,000+ racers. It was incredible and it’s amazing what just hearing things like: “YOU CAN DO IT!, “Keep going!”, and “You’re almost there!” can do for you when you’re struggling.

This is a sign that a woman named Thanh made for Pastor Larry. She attended a summer camp PL spoke at over the summer where he put on his Nacho Libre mask. She liked it so much she made a poster for him and held it up toward the end of the race to encourage him to keep going.

Again, my favorite sign that encouraged me was around mile 22 in which a woman from a local church was holding up a sign that said, “YOU’RE ANOINTED TO FINISH”. That just fired me up and really help push me those last extra miles.

So what is the lesson?

  • Everyone needs encouragement!
  • Encouragement can come from anybody! (You can encourage anyone!!)
  • You never know where someone is on their journey (they may be on mile 22 ready to call it quits!) and your encouragement may be what gets them through.
  • Encouragement is the most powerful when we’re genuinely interested in someone else’s dreams, goals, and desires.
  • As Christians, we’re surrounded by a cloud of witnesses throughout our entire journey….cheering us on and encouraging us to not give up because what God has for us is unbelievable if we’ll just keep going!

Are you encouraging people? I want to challenge you to go out and encourage 5 people a day on purpose! If you’ll make it a daily habit… you’ll become a constant source of encouragement to everyone around you in no time.


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