Life Lessons from Lightning McQueen

If you have a young child in your home, then you are probably familiar with Lightning McQueen. Even if you do not have children, you may simply be a fan of animated movies. In either case, you would know that Lightning McQueen is the anthropomorphic race car that stars in the Cars movie series and related videos. While the primary audience for Cars consists of preschoolers and elementary school students, there are life lessons presented that are relevant for all ages. 1. Take time to refuel. Life can be busy. That’s a fact that becomes a reality for most of us. We become engaged in a variety of activities that lead to multiple demands on our time. In our attempt to meet our commitments and live up to expectations, we relentlessly press on to accomplish everything without taking the time to refuel. As a result, we end up running on fumes much of the time. While it is commendable to have a variety of involvements, it is essential to take a break from time to time. Even Lightning McQueen has to stop to refuel during a race. Regularly take time out of your day to rest, to play, to pray, or to do whatever else refuels and re-energizes you. These breaks, while requiring only a short amount of time, will enable you to be more effective and more productive in the long run. 2. Pace yourself to make it to the finish. Far too many people treat life as a 100-meter race instead of as a marathon. In a race that is over in just a matter of seconds, it’s okay to go all out. But when the race covers several miles, you must pace yourself so that you can endure to the end. You can’t win the race if you can’t finish the race. For you, this may mean learning to say “no” to some good opportunities. Choose a few of the most important activities that you can reasonably fit into your schedule, and then say “no” to the rest. This will likely mean disappointing some people, but it is essential for your health and your longevity. 3. Pay attention to the warning signs. In the race at the beginning of the original Cars movie, Lightning McQueen had a substantial lead going into the final turn. Then it happened: his two rear tires blew. These were the same two tires that his pit crew had been urging him to replace, but McQueen refused to heed the warnings. Instead, he insisted on getting back on the track as soon as possible. As a result, he barely eked out a tie at the finish line, forcing a rematch a week later. McQueen almost lost the race because of his reluctance to address potential problem areas. What potential problem areas do you have in your life? Where do you need maintenance or repairs? Consider your physical health, your psychological state, your spiritual condition, and the status of your relationships. You would be wise to address potential problems before then result in a blowout. 4. Live beyond yourself. When Lightning McQueen is first introduced to us, he is presented as an arrogant, self-centered, egotistical rookie race car. But then he meets Tow Mater, Doc Hudson, Sally, and the rest of the residents of Radiator Springs. He gradually learns the importance of friendship, the value of teamwork, and the principle of self-sacrifice. How do you show your friends and family that you value them? In what ways do you invest yourself into your community? What do you have that you can offer to encourage and help others? Instead of being inwardly focused, strive to live beyond yourself by connecting with others and meeting the needs around you. These were significant lessons that Lightning McQueen had to learn, and they are lessons that can enhance and improve your life, too. The next time you sit down to watch one of the Cars movies—or the next time you see a Lightning McQueen T-shirt or backpack—allow it to remind you of these important life lessons.

About Greg Hanson

Greg Hanson is a freelance writer and public speaker specializing in matters of practical faith. Greg has spoken to audiences in the U.S. and in Canada, and his writings have been used by speakers and leaders around the world. As the pastor of a local church, Greg helps people deal with a variety of relational, financial, and spiritual problems. As a sports enthusiast (hockey in particular) he is informed about what happens on the ice/field and in the front office. And as a parent of two young children… well, he’s still learning. Greg resides in Prince Edward Island, Canada, with his wife Shera and their children, Nate and Noah.

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