Process Over Outcome: Placing Value on the Process

A few nights ago watching the Olympics, I found myself on the edge of my seat cheering for a seventeen year old girl from Alaska, whom I’ve never met. I jumped to my feet and looked over at Marshall who was waving his arms in the air in celebration as tears filled his eyes. 


We celebrated the victory of Lydia Jacoby, the first person from Alaska to win an Olympic medal in swimming and who beat the two favored, expected olympians.  


The Olympics are fantastic to watch because we get to witness the outcome of the process that the best of the best athletes have invested in for years of their lives.


Making it to the Olympics, winning a medal is the outcome of countless hours of training. It’s the outcome of a life of sacrifice to obtain one goal. It’s the outcome of dedication to train through the pain, to train when everyone else goes home, to train instead of attending parties, to train instead of what’s fun today.


In an article Jacoby mentioned that her high school pool was closed because of Covid, so she ended up moving to Anchorage with her mom to practice. And she said, “It worked out well in Anchorage because swimming was all I would do.” 


She was laser focused on swimming and making the best out of a difficult situation. 


Making it to the Olympics is a lifetime of participating in the process of becoming great one day at a time. 


Becoming an Olympian is a process. Winning a medal is the outcome. But the medal doesn’t come without the process of practice.


The process is about heart, dedication, focus, intentionality, correcting, listening, observing, The process is about small goals over time and the courage to cultivate & nurture a dream. 


A few nights ago, on the edge of my seat I got to witness this young girl who was “unknown” with fire in her eyes and a mission in her heart – to swim her heart out, just like she had practiced. The result was a gold medal.


This historical moment in swimming convicted my spirit. 


It convicted me because most days, if I’m honest, I am more concerned about the outcome, and want the outcome to appear here and now.  I want to dodge the hard work it takes to get the “gold medal”.


I struggle with the waiting that accompanies the process. 


A mentor in my life reminds me often that God is more concerned with who I am becoming than what I am doing. It’s about my character being cultivated through the process. And there is a process to becoming. Becoming who God wants me to be takes time.


Imagine if Lydia Jacoby would have skipped out on practices in the days leading up to the Olympics. What if she said, “I’ve got this, I’ve trained my whole life I don’t need to practice today”? What if she pulled back from the process instead of leaning into the process on those critical last days of training before the Olympic event?


I imagine that she would have missed a life-changing opportunity. 


I believe we often miss opportunities that God has planned and is preparing for us because we pull back from the process. We get tired of waiting on him and his timing so we take matters into our own hands and rush ahead of him. 


James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”


Getting up early, going to practice 2x’s (or more) a day for hours at a time, lifting weights, running, eating high protein, low sugar meals are all examples of the perseverance an Olympian says yes to – daily. All these actions produce the perseverance of an Olympic athlete.


When we rush ahead of God, we are like the swimmer who chooses to skip the final practices before the race, loads up on junk food, ditches the weight training and cardio workouts. We will dive in, only to realize, our heart, mind and body are not equipped with the perseverance to finish the race.


Every day of the process is important. It’s up to God to determine when the process is complete and it’s out time to race.


The process or the practice is about keeping our head down and our minds clear of distractions. The process is about incremental, consistent learning, improving and preparation. The process is about doing the things others won’t do because of convenience, comfort or sacrifice. The process is about staying committed to the process – even when it gets boring, mundane or feels like we aren’t making progress.


The outcome of Lydia’s victory is only worth tears and celebrating because of the years of her head, heart and body being dedicated to the process. The medal – the outcome – isn’t conceivable apart from the process. The medal is only worth rejoicing over because of the process.


Are you so focused on the outcome you miss the beauty of the process? Are you so concerned with the finish line that you want to evade or fly through the process? 


I have been wrestling with these questions myself. This moment of conviction for my spirit has helped me to refocus on the importance of embracing the process.  The process is the preparation for the outcome. But it’s not about the outcome. 


Who we become in the process is the real victory. Who we are becoming is where the real value lies.


What if instead of the outcome being our goal, the process was our focus? What if we invested our full self into becoming? What if we showed up to “practice” every day with the same fire in our eyes and mission in our hearts that Lydia demonstrated, to live the process with purpose.


What if we really believed that the process was more important that the outcome? How would that change how we approach our work, our relationships, our giving, our involvement, our investments in time? 


I am praying that if God has spoken to your heart, like he has mine, that together we can embrace the process he is walking us through. I pray together we can see that the process deserves our attention, energy and focus – even more than the outcome we are believing & hoping for. 

For more devotions, click here!