Stretch Yourself

Growing up as a kid in Indiana, basketball was a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Later in High School, I added Cross Country and Track. P.E. was also a regular part of the school curriculum in those days.

There was also one common denominator in all of these activities. Stretching. Before scrimmaging or running, the coach always required various stretching exercises to increase muscle flexibility and decrease the risk of injuries

Often there was another type of stretching involved. Pushing yourself to do extra push ups, run an extra lap, or additional sprints.

Stretching is not only profitable physically, it’s important mentally and spiritually.

Many years ago, I recall attending a seminar by motivational speaker and author Zig Ziglar. He spoke of “Stretching to Success” and used an example of a rubber band. He pointed out that the rubber band is of no value unless it is stretched. Since then, numerous authors and speakers have used this analogy.

In The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, John Maxwell in the chapter “The Law of the Rubber Band” offers this insight. “Growth stops when you lose the tension between where you are and where you could be.”

Stop. Read that again. And think about it.

Where have you been spiritually?

Where are you now?

Where do you see yourself in the future?

  • Are you stretching toward greater growth?
  • Are you seeking to improve?
  • Are you developing your skills, talents and abilities?
  • Are you still learning?
  • Are you looking for new opportunities?
  • Are you challenging yourself to break bad habits and acquire new ones?
  • Are you satisfied with your success? Or looking for greater significance?
  • Are you coasting spiritually? Or moving forward?

Every Christian, especially those of us who are older, ought to be motivated and inspired by the words of the aged apostle Paul written from a Roman prison.

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:13-14).

This reminds me of a quote attributed to Mark Batterson. “Potential is God’s gift to you. What you do with it is your gift back to God.”

Jesus’ parable of the talents speaks to the heart of this very issue. If you’re not familiar with it, take a minute and read Matthew 25:14-29. Both the 5 talent and 2 talent man, stretched. They were opportunistic. They worked. Invested. And grew. Both were congratulated and commended by their Master.

However, the 1 talent man did nothing. He didn’t even do the very minimum to create growth. His excuse? “I was afraid.” Fear paralyzed him. However, his fright was frowned on by the Master. He condemned him. And called him “a wicked and lazy servant.”

This reminds me of a demonstration by a seminar speaker who brought all sizes, shapes and colors of rubber bands to a meeting and dumped them out on the table. “What do all these rubber bands have in common?” He asked. The obvious answer. “They have to be stretched to be effective.”

Like the rubber bands, we’re all different. Different abilities, talents, and skill sets. We all have different opportunities. Yet, God expects us each to do what we can. To “grow in the grace of knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18). This involves stretching.

Like the one talent man, fear holds many Christians hostage and prevents their growth. Noah Ben Shea was right when he wrote, “Fear makes us not only less than we might be, but less than we think we are.” It’s estimated there are over 365 “fear not” exhortations in the Bible. One for every day of the year. Don’t allow fear to hinder your growth. Exercise your faith instead of fertilizing your fears.

Of course, also like the 1 talent man, some folks are just plain lazy. They’re like the wise man’s observation, “The lazy man says, ‘There is a lion outside! I shall be slain in the streets!” (Prov 22:13). For the sluggard one excuse is just as good as another.

Stretching spiritually calls for intentionally, demands self discipline, requires courage, and depends upon God’s help.

Finally, remember the advice of Mary Ann Evans known by her pen name George Elliot. “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”

Stretch yourself.

–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman


Filed under Sowing Seeds for Spiritual Growth

2 responses to “Stretch Yourself

  1. Boyd Hastings

    Potential unused is a waste. When teaching in an urban school many years ago, I was given a very unruly and unproductive group of students in a program called P.A.S.(Potentially Able Students) The first thing I did on the first day was to change the meaning from “Potentially Able Students” to “Positive Action Students” We had a good year. Often times we live up to the expectations of others. God expects us to make the most of the blessings He gives us.


  2. Pingback: Weekly Recap: May 1-5 | ThePreachersWord

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