Do you have a prayer partner? …A workout or jogging partner? …Business partner?
Back in 1988, I had the occasion to meet Dr. Logan Hampton, who was elected president of Lane College in June of this year. We were both attending the CME Church’s General Conference in Atlanta. I was an avid fitness buff at the time. Based on Dr. Hampton’s lean appearance today, he probably still is.
Two guys, looking like pastors, ran into each other while in the health club at the hotel. Realizing we were likely in town for the same conference, we introduced ourselves. I mentioned that I alternate lifting weights one day and jogging the next. I told him I had jogged twice down to the University stadium and back. He said he’d like to jog with me, so we agreed to meet in the morning. I forewarned Dr. Hampton that the distance was just over three miles and I would need to slow to a walk a couple of times as I had done the days before. He said he would need to slow down too, as he knew he couldn’t jog that distance, either.
We met as planned, stretched a little, and struck out jogging. I don’t remember exactly when, but I am certain that several times I was thinking, “I thought he said he would need to stop.” I discovered as we arrived back at the hotel, he was thinking the very same thing. We both said in unison, “I thought you said you couldn’t make it all the way without stopping.” I have honestly thought about that day hundreds of times.
Neither of us thought we could make it, but neither of us wanted to be the one to slow the other down. It may have been the distraction of our fellowshipping while we jogged. Perhaps a more honest reflection would be I was too proud to let him know I needed to slow down. It matters not for my point, though. What matters is that both he and I went further than either of us thought we could go. …And farther than either of us would have gone had we been jogging alone.
The right partner will urge you beyond your imagined (self-imposed?) limitations. The right partner will prod you to keep up with them and push themselves so as to not slow you down.
Dr. Hampton and I have been in each others’ company many times over the last several years. As I had the opportunity to greet him shortly after his installation as the President of Lane, I whispered to him, “Run with someone who doesn’t know your limitations.”
That is a real partner.
I had an inner conflict of sorts just the other day. In reality it is pretty common, but that day sitting behind a car with it’s right turn signal light flashing while he waited for the green light, really got my attention. My mind was screaming, “Why won’t he go on and turn?”
The answer: Because it is not required and it is his prerogative to turn or not on red. Yet I felt like that guy was supposed to make the right turn on red. Making my thinking worse, I was not in a hurry: just impatient for no good reason.
The dilemma: How often do we attempt to push our choice between two equally correct options onto someone who has the right to choose otherwise? We go as far as to believe they are wrong, and even get angry.
The fact that something is right or acceptable does not make it a requirement. That something is legal does not make it mandatory. The Apostle Paul went further to say, in effect, “Just because something is legal does not necessarily mean it is best or right to do.” To think this all the way through, what is right for me may not be right for you. And we both can be right.
Some folks that I hang out with have a saying. “Live and let live.” The great truth is, within the boundaries of wholesome living there is a multitude of acceptable choices. I do not have the right to expect you to make the same decisions I would make.
To be sure, we should not watch anyone do wrong or make bad decisions and not express some concern for their well being. At the same time, mature adults have the right to make well-informed bad decisions if they choose. The day that the gentleman in front of me chose not to make a right turn on red, his decision was better than my decision – to be offended at his decision.