This morning I once again forced myself out the door for an early run. It was already a challenge since mornings aren't my usual running time. I hadn't gone two steps when I was greeted by an unexpected, and somewhat unwelcome, running buddy. The neighbor's dog decided to join me for my morning run.
Now this is a sweet dog, but I didn't want him to run with me. To begin with, he's not even supposed to be out of the fence, but he is somewhat of a Houdini at getting out. Secondly, I just didn't want the responsibility of keeping him out of trouble as I ran. I tried to make him go home, but nothing I did seemed to sway his determination. I ran a different way, doubled back, ran faster - still he was following me whether I wanted him to or not.
I guess all of life is sort of like this. Whether we like it or not, we are leading the way for someone. It may be a child, a friend, even a co-worker...but wherever we go, someone is looking to us as a leader. I used to tell my students, someone is looking up to you - do the right thing. Now I was walking, or slowly running, out my own words. I kept thinking of the verse from Psalm 23 that says, "...lead me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake..." While I want to walk the right path because it brings glory to God, I have to realize someone else is following my lead. Someone else may be learning how to follow God by watching me. I may not want that responsibility, just like I didn't want the dog following me...but like it or not - we lead.
After about 20 minutes, I heard a car slow down near me. It was the dog's owner. She fussed at him a bit and put him in the car and took him home...and a funny thing happened. No matter what I did, my running became more difficult. True, I had already gone about 2 miles, but it was more than just that. I noticed that once the dog was gone, every step seemed to take more effort than it had before. I hadn't ever thought about the fact that having someone with you, even an unwelcome follower like this dog, makes the journey a little easier.
We tend to think if we are "leading" then we are doing all the work, but the truth is we gain from those who follow just as much as they gain from us. My mind wasn't on each step when the dog was with me, it was on watching out for him. I didn't realize how hot the sun was as I watched him chase a squirrel or stop to sniff every mailbox we passed. His antics distracted and made the journey more enjoyable. We traveled together.
I guess today's random thought is something we all know, but I had forgotten. Someone is looking to you and following your lead....and together the journey is a more pleasant one. Have fun on your "run" with others today.