Running Mates

Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid /
The whole travelling companions theme has continued to roll around my head the last few weeks. That combined with the fact that I have been doing a little more running reminded me of how the Bible uses a race as a metaphor for discipleship. Ask my family what my favourite verse is and they will sing in unison, 1 Corinthians 9:24. “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” Who you run that race with is vital, and running with my workmate Matt recently, has helped me visualise what type of leader, what type of running mate I want to be in the future.

Matt and I committed to each other just after the new year, to run a couple of times a week. As I make my commitment at the end of June, I will be committing to run the race with a bunch of people who as of yet don’t really know me and I them, but never-the-less I will be making that commitment. I want to be the type of man who follows through on that commitment. There are times when Matt asks me if I’m running, and my whole mind shouts no it’s raining and cold outside. I am sure he feels the same, but because that would impact the other person, we drag our weary bodies out the door. Being a disciple is no different, and I want the people I am on the race with to expect encouragement to get moving again from me, and I from them.

Then there was last week when Matt not only didn’t feel like going, but once we went he seemed to be finding it harder than usual. Matts ten years my junior so normally is the one egging us on and making the pace. This day his nipper had been keeping him and his good lady awake so he was just shattered. I could probably have run ahead, but Matt had hung around for me most of the time, so I just took the role of the pacemaker for that day and encouraged him. Stuff happens in life and sometimes we need to swap who the pace maker is. I want to be the type of leader who knows when to do that, and then knows when to swap back.

I could go on stretching the running mate metaphor to breaking point. But please forgive me one last parallel that has come to mind as I have been pondering it on our runs. On the home stretch of our runs, including the day I lead the pace, Matt will finish with a sprint. I do as well, but somehow the legs don’t carry me as fast as the spritely Matt. It’s at this point I get to make decision to be miffed at this young upstart, or happy that he is leading the way. Surprisingly for someone with my inclination towards competition I have found that I have been happy to see the energy he has to do this. Now if I can take that parallel and mimic it in whatever leader I become, I may become a small success as a leader. If I can smile as people I help in the future outrun me in their discipleship walk then I will know that I really am walking in God’s will. Then I will know that I do run in such a way as to get the prize.

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