Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Open Road ... Narrow Path - THE PELOTON

Find rest, o my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God, He is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge. Psalm 62:5-8

A leader of a peloton must expect and anticipate every move to filter to the back of the pack: every pull of the brake; every swerve of the handle bar; every push of the peddle. The trailing bike riders in a peloton operate under the accentuated maneuver of the leader. Unintentional or unannounced braking causes the pack to pile up. Quick tacking moves to avoid an obstacle will likely cause sideswiping crashes. So a good leader considers the impact of the decisions they make on the posse following them. But that is not to say the riders in the middle of the pack have to stay alert to the ever changing balance of pace and flow.

Does this sound easy enough? Fear of erratic riders prevents me from wanting to ride in a pack. I have always participated in solo sports. Learning to ride in a pack is a learned skill. One in my case, I do not possess. All of the two wheel sports or any sport for that matter I have done throughout my life have been solo sports. The closest I’ve come to team sports is the relay in track. There is no dependence on the leader or other teammates nor do the choices of others impact my performance and safety.

Needless to say fear dictates whether I participate in a peloton or not. I would rather take on the burden of the wind myself and not reap the benefits of a pack. A leader takes on the burden of the wind giving the following riders the opportunity to peddle with less resistance. Can a solo rider become a leader? They are comfortable taking on the burden of the wind. But are they prepared and able to consider the impact of the decisions they make on the posse in the rear? Do they have the strength and perseverance to carry the pack throughout the full course of the ride?

Riders in a peloton often share the front role. So, the question of whether a rider has the resolve to tolerate the front position all the time is irrelevant. They will have the opportunity to rest from the resistance of the wind. But what is relevant is whether the leader has the ability to easily slide in to the balance and flow of the pack.

It is true that the back of the pack takes hold of the worst of the leader’s mistakes. All movements made in the front are heightened by the time they reach the back. So, if someone spends a lot of time in the rear to avoid the potential pile up crashes they suffer often from even the smallest mistakes from the front.

Belonging to a church feels like being in a peloton. Where do you like to place yourself:

·        in the front bearing the force and making considerate decisions;
·        in the middle reaping the benefit of less force but taking on the potential crash or;
·        in the rear benefiting from less wind and avoiding the crash but suffering from the errors from the front?  

Moses was thrust in to leadership by God. Throughout his journey as the peloton front man, he struggled to maintain his strength; he fumbled in his decisions; he often failed to delegate duties; he pushed away his family; he allowed the pack to behave erratically and crash often. These leadership shortcomings caused him and the people he was leading to wander in the wilderness for 40 years. How can we learn from Moses shortcomings?

·        Seek God often and rely less on our own strength and wisdom. We are only as good as the most recent encounter with God;
·        Be content with what God is doing and trust his plan. Believe in His goodness. Praise His provision and plan even in uncertain times;
·        Obey God’s commands with an agreeable heart;
·        Be quick to repent and return to an abiding relationship with God when we fall short;
·        Lead but also be willing to delegate duties and share the burden;
·        Lead others to also seek God, be content and trust his plan.

In spite of Moses’ shortcomings he encountered God in amazing ways. Furthermore he added over time the skills listed above strengthening his leadership skills. Whether we find ourselves in the front, middle or rear, how can we best function as a member of the pack to bring the most benefit to all?

In a peloton or in a church you will be required to rotate in to each position throughout the ride or your life. Some you will be comfortable with and some you won’t. It will depend on what you fear.

·        If you’re afraid of suffering you won’t like being in the back. If your strength is being patient and long tempered then being in the back is comfortable.

·        If you are fearful of your errors traumatically impacting the “pack” then leadership roles will seem arduous. If you like taking the brunt of the opposing force and serving the “peloton” as a leader then the front is the place for you.

·        If you fear the result the erratic movements the middle of the pack often produces then you will prefer to move to another position. If you are comfortable adjusting to the subtle changes the leader produces and accomodating the "riders" next to you than the middle is a valuable option.

Where do you feel comfortable: front, middle or back? How can you overcome your fear to accomplish the work the Holy Spirit is calling you to? How does Psalm 62 equip us to find rest in God alone no matter what position you find yourself in?

Other Posts in this series: Open Road ... Narrow Path