Wayne Cordeiro, an author I’ve worked with, has felt this way, but pressed forward anyway. For the past 35 years, Wayne has worked as a pioneering preacher. He’s entered some of the roughest areas of Hawaii’s cities and helped people lead better lives. All people are welcome at his churches, including gang members, prostitutes, drug dealers, and the homeless. The calling is rewarding. But the calling is tough. The 60-year-old, Harley-riding, son of an Army first sergeant says he has got a lot of good years behind him, but he’s not ready to quit any time soon.
So how does he keep going?
A few years back, Wayne signed up for one of the most grueling water races in Hawaii’s oceans. He began an intensive training regime. Each day for eight months, he ran, lifted weights, and paddled for hours. He knew he would need strength and endurance to paddle his canoe the 41-miles across a treacherous channel between Molokai and Oahu. Currents run swift, and waves can exceed 8 feet.
At 6:30 a.m. on race day, Wayne hit the ocean along with 100 other racers. The five-hour race exploded to a start. The first hour, he paddled on pure adrenaline. The second hour, he dug deeper. The third hour, the pace took its toll, and racers began to drop out. By the fourth hour, Wayne was in agony. He wondered why he had ever signed up for the race. He arms and back cramped. He struggled to breathe. His eyes ached in the constant glare of the sun.
Just when he was at the point of giving up, a thought rushed at him. This was exactly what he had been training for. Not for the race, but for this precise moment in the race. Anyone can begin a race—it’s easy to have energy then. And the end isn’t the hard part either—anyone can sprint to the finish.
You train for the middle.
The middle is when no one is around or cheering. It’s when everything in you screams to quit. It’s the point where you’re depleted and long to drop out. That exact moment is what you train to overcome.
“I realized that if I dropped out of the canoe race,” Wayne said, “then it would nullify the hundreds of hours I’d put into preparing for this very moment in the race. Suddenly it was like nitrous oxide was added to my tank. I dug my paddle in deep and pressed forward. It ended up being my best race.”
How about you? What do you do when you want to go live in a van down by the river? How have you prepared for the precise moment you’re tempted to quit your calling, or be unfaithful to your spouse, or stomp out of a board meeting in anger, or give up your race?