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6 Surprising Discoveries on the World Race

The World Race surprises people. We say, “Don’t have any expectations.” But you can’t help having them – how else would you navigate in a world that is constantly changing? So racers get surprised. If you’re a future racer, I’d like to help you calibrate your expectations. Here are the most c…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

The World Race surprises people. We say, “Don’t have any expectations.” But you can’t help having them – how else would you navigate in a world that is constantly changing? So racers get surprised.

If you’re a future racer, I’d like to help you calibrate your expectations. Here are the most common ways in which I see racers surprised. 

1. Surprise! You were made to be loved.

The Westminster Confession says, “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” But there’s something that comes before that. You have to be loved before you can love. Children who aren’t nurtured as infants lag their peers. When we recognize that God loves us and wants a relationship, it changes everything. But how many of us really believe that? On the race, you discover that God loves you in so many surprising ways. 

2. Surprise! You were made for greatness.

Why do we have to go away from home to start seeing ourselves the way God sees us? Maybe you’re like me – my mom told me I was awesome, but then who could be more biased about me than my mom? I needed to leave home and all the people and support systems that propped up my self-confidence in order to see reality. On the race, you get regular life-affirming feedback about who you really are. Most of us are much greater than we realize and we just need to see it for ourselves.

3. Surprise! Greatness requires commitment to change.

You may be good now, but the greatness that God wants to reveal in you only shows up as you commit to change. We tend to resist change, preferring the reality that we know to one that is waiting to be revealed. But the World Race makes it hard to hide out in your comfort zone. It destabilizes you and forces you to look to God in ways that are new. And when he responds by expanding your horizons, you can’t help but grow.

4. Surprise! Pain comes at you in stages.

Change is almost always painful. We don’t learn to ride a bike without falling off it. We can’t avoid pain if we are committed to grow. But God allows us to experience pain in stages. We’ve seen that there are six of them that the race activates. The pain of abandon – of leaving your home and family – leads to the pain of brokenness. And when you’re broken, you’re compelled to look in new places for strength, so you depend on God in new ways. And when you do, great things happen.

5. Surprise! It’s not about you.

We start off in life as babies crying when we want our needs met. It’s how we’re built. And a lot of people never move on from there. It’s a shame, because as Jesus told us, giving is a better way to organize your life than is receiving. So we need help getting over ourselves. Maybe we were an only child or maybe we were abused or maybe our parents always tried to protect us from painful consequences. On the race, you’re one of six people on a team and selfishness stands out. 

6. Surprise! God wants to partner with you to build his kingdom.

God has a plan that people everywhere would experience his love and grace. Jesus came to set the captives free and he is still using his followers to do that. It’s an awesome thing to show people that God is real and that his love is real. It’s how he builds his kingdom. We are the answer to Jesus’ prayer, “Your kingdom come.” 

All of life is a bait and switch. You form your expectations based on what you’ve experienced, and then reality shows you there was more to the picture. God wants to move you out of a life that is organized around your own needs and he wants to use you to change the world. He’s happy to use whatever flawed motives you may have to move you to a better place where you can dance with him and live a life worth singing about.

So to conclude, here are two expectations that you can count on: Expect that God wants you to journey with him and expect to be surprised along the way.

Comments (5)

  • Seth,

    I’m still waiting for the “over 35” World Race group! Watching my daughter Bethany Fristad on U Squad navigate this Kingdom Journey with much love and prideand inspired by what they are doing and learning and how they are growing being surprised!
    Thank you for your good blog readsI look forward to them.

    (and if that is your friend bob goff that just respondedthanks to him as well for the awesome book “love does”!)

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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