Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Studying the Map

Map of the last race I ran
I used to never study the map of a course before a race. It's because I knew my running buddy Stephen did that. And since I ran my first three marathons with him, I never bothered. I would maybe look at the map a couple of times, just to have a sense of where the course would take us. But I seldom paid attention to the details.

That changed during my last race, which I ran without Stephen. I felt that I had to have a better grasp of the courses' intricacies. And because it was a longer distance than I had ever ran before, I paid close attention to where the climbs were, where the aid stations were located and where the flats and downhills were situated. I had to plan for these. I had to know where the inclines and declines were, and how long they were so I could pace myself. I had to know where the drink stations were so I could regulate may liquid intake. I had to know what food and drink was available at the aid stations so that I knew what to bring.

Studying the map paid off! It helped me plan and strategize. Knowing that there was an aid station every 2 miles helped me manage my hydration. I used to get cramps after mile 20 because dehydrated. Learning the map kept me cramp-free.

Panoramic view of Lake Junaluska
Last week, I attended the Training of New District Superintendents and Directors of Connectional Ministry in Lake Junaluska, NC. It was great time of learning and of connecting with fellow "newbies". It was also a renewing time of retreat and reflection on this new role that I am now two months into.

Aside from gaining friends and meaningful connections with colleagues, my greatest takeaway from my time at Lake J was that it allowed me to "study the map" of what it means to be superintendent in the Alaska Conference. The training gave me a better sense of the scope of the job. It gave me a better understanding of my role as "chief missional strategist" for our conference. It helped me plot when the busy "uphill" times would be in the calendar as well as the easy "flats" where I can relax and restore. It also helped me take stock of the "aid stations"- resources I have available, people I can contact for help and guidance, and agencies I can tap into for resourcing.

In Luke 14, Jesus talks about "studying the map", when it comes to being a disciple. He challenges everyone who wants to follow him to count the cost of discipleship. "For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.'"(Luke 14:28-30, NRSV).

My week at Lake J certainly led me to "study the map" and "count the cost" of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus in this role. What about you? What maps for the different races of life do you need to study right now?

Whatever race of life you're in right now, may God lead you to study your maps diligently, allowing you to count the cost, run the race and finish strong.


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