Run Well, Pass Well: A Lesson from the 2016 U.S. Olympic Track Relay Team
The 2016 U.S. Track & Field, Women’s 4x100m Olympic Team endured one of the most unorthodox qualifying experiences ever in hopes of making the finals heat in Rio. The build-up to this event featured the storyline of the U.S. women’s team endeavoring to defend the gold medal they won in World-Record fashion at the 2012 London Olympics. Shockingly, after the women’s team in Rio finished the qualifying round, it appeared as though they had been eliminated and would not advance to the finals.
During the qualifying round, Allyson Felix of the U.S. was bumped by a competitor from the next lane as she attempted to pass the baton to the third runner on the U.S. team. As a result of the incidental contact, Felix dropped the baton, and the U.S. finished dead last in the race. Thankfully, due to a successful protest citing Felix being impeded by the competitor next to her, the U.S. team was later permitted a ‘do-over’ by themselves. With no competitors on the track, they raced the clock in an attempt to qualify for the last spot in the finals. Amazingly, the U.S. Women’s 4x100m relay team not only qualified for the finals in this unorthodox manner, but they also won the gold medal! Dropping the baton in the qualifying round, in this incident, proved to be of no consequence.
Typically in a relay race, however, dropping or having issues passing the baton results in losing the race or being altogether disqualified (ask the U.S. Men’s 4x100m Olympic relay team, who were disqualified for an illegal pass after they thought they had won a bronze medal!). No matter how fast or how smoothly you run your leg of the race, if you don’t properly pass the baton or fail to pass it at all, the whole team suffers the consequences. You have to run and pass well to win. Running well and passing the baton well are likewise critical to our faith as followers of Christ.
Passing the Baton
The Christian life is best described as a relay race. Jesus’ last instructions to His disciples at the end of Matthew’s gospel were about how to properly pass the baton to future believers and generations by teaching others to be disciples as He taught them. The writer of Hebrews in chapter 12 instructs on how to run our leg of the race well: with endurance, with discipline, and by fixing our eyes on Jesus as those who ran before spectate. So our lives as Christians can be summed up as running our race well and passing the baton well to the next set of believers.
This fall represents a great opportunity to pass the baton well, both in making disciples of new people/believers in our church and city, and by reaching the next generation with the gospel.
College and grad students will be flocking and returning to campus life the next few weeks and many will even visit our church. The college campus, by and large, is a spiritually dark place, where the ideas, lifestyles, and values promoted therein confuse and cloud the minds/hearts of already broken and hurting young men and women. Experiencing campus life in a city like New York only exacerbates that reality for most students. Even students who grew up in Christian families will be severely challenged in holding firmly to their faith in NYC, unless there is intervention and assistance by ministries and churches who target students. God has given us, Every Nation NYC, an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of college and grad students by properly passing the baton to them, and instructing them how to run their leg of the race.
You can help pass the baton to the next generation through prayer, volunteering, or even simply by welcoming college students in our church. (Of course you can also help reach the next generation in our children or our youth by serving in the Children’s or 414 Youth Ministries respectively)! For more info on how you can pray, volunteer, or connect with college & grad students in our city and church please contact me at email@example.com. Together, let’s run our race well, and pass the baton well to the next generation!
About Every Nation Campus NYC:
Our college ministry, Every Nation Campus NYC, exists for students to know God, live for Jesus, and change the world–three attributes which are critical to best influencing NYC undergraduate and graduate students to have a kingdom-centered lives. We have on-campus connect groups, Bible studies, and events and outreaches throughout the year on campuses and around the city.