10.2 Ministry is Like Mountain Biking – DONT LOCK ELBOWS

As I have been learning how to be more of a serious mountain biker on legitimately challenging trails, I have noticed many things that are similar to leadership principles applicable to ministry.

A key part of navigating treacherous Ozark trails on a bike is making adjustments to your direction. Though this sounds obvious, it’s not so easy to remember after a steep climb.

Imagine huffing and puffing and working hard as your slowly peddle your way up the side of a mountain. Your legs scream for rest, but if you slow down you roll backwards. You want to stand up, but if you do your bike won’t have enough weight leaning forward and you can perform an unwanted, unspectacular, and ultimately painful wheelie. Finally, you reach the top. Success! Your reward of going down the mountain awaits you.

As you begin your steep descent, the breeze picks up with speed, and it cools your sclap through your vented helmet. It feels so good, and you descend at a speed that is several times faster than what you just completed. Joy! But also, danger! The temptation is to lock your elbows while you lean on your handle bars and enjoy the thrill ride. This is the very instant when I have almost had my most spectacular wrecks.
Why? When your elbows are locked, it’s harder to make minor yet crucial adjustments to your bike’s direction. Rocks, trees, roots, gravel, sand, mud, boulders, and drop-offs are potentially in your path at an increasingly quick pace. You have to be ready to change, despite your desire to just sit back and relax. Yet the amount of time you have to react is very little.

Can you see the ministry analogies pop out of that last paragraph? Many times ministry leaders will accomplish something of significance, and then relax while they lean on their ministry handle bars. Meanwhile they and/or their ministry is ever approaching fresh hazards, and their lack of preparedness for the next difficulty leaves them vulnerable to a spectacular fall.

Proverbs 22:5 “Thorns and snares are in the way of the crooked; whoever guards his soul will keep far from them.” As in mountain biking, it’s great to celebrate victories in ministry. Appreciate when you overcome difficult stretches. Yet we must remember to not let our guard down, lock our elbows, lean on our handles bars, and just coast unwittingly into danger. We must guard that which we have been entrusted with from being overcome, simply because we weren’t ready and watchful for the difficulties yet to come.

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