Getting off the treadmill of good intentions

Running on treadmill

As I look over my first few personal growth plans, I confess that I wrote an exercise goal each year…but never really got into the habit. I was a flash-in-the-pan exerciser. I may have even used the treadmill once or twice before I totally bombed out on the whole idea of exerting myself physically. As I used to say, “I do one sit up a day. Half when I wake up in the morning and the other half when I go to bed at night.”

I just couldn’t sustain my good intentions when it came to regular exercise. My problem wasn’t a lack of knowledge. I knew, as a middle-aged man, I needed to get my heart beating for 20-30 minutes at least three times a week. With six kids, I was motivated. After all, I want to be around for them and my grandchildren (somewhere down the road). Nevertheless, I would dare to write a personal exercise goal in my personal growth plan every year… and that exercise goal mocked me for years…until…

One beautiful spring day several years ago, I asked my then teenage son if he wanted to take a jog. To my surprise, he said yes. (I think he just wanted the pleasure of laughing at me while he ran circles around me.) So we went.

Amazingly, I could walk the next morning. So we went jogging again that day. And the next day after that too. First it was one mile. A few months later it was two miles. Then three. My wife purchased matching running shoes for us (but don’t tell my son’s friends… that’s so uncool). Soon, we sucked my wife into the exercise vortex and she began jogging with us. We were the jogging Allison family! We now jog an average of three times a week (with the exception of a few really cold weeks in the winter).

Why I didn’t need my treadmill anymore

What got me off the treadmill of good intentions and onto the track of personal growth? Perhaps it was the matching running shoes. But I think it was a partner I was missing. I had exercise written in my personal growth plan for years, but I had no jogging partners. I was stuck…all by myself…on a treadmill. Think about a treadmill for a moment. A treadmill is made for one person. It’s one of the reasons I never got around to actually using my treadmill. It was lonely. I needed partners.

Your personal growth is not a solo adventure. Reread that sentence again because if you’re like most people, you’re trying to grow yourself…by yourself. But that’s not the way God designed it (Heb. 10:24-25). You were wired by God to live in community. You need a few trusted friends and comrades to do life with and to take your personal growth journey with you. And they need you to join them in theirs. Yet, so many of us are stuck on the treadmill of good intentions precisely because we’re alone.

Once I got a partner or two, I was off and running (pun intended). And those partners have come in very handy, like when I don’t feel like jogging. My son says, “What’s wrong old man? Can’t get out of your wheelchair? Don’t want to leave your oxygen tank? Afraid I might out-run you?” Next thing you know, I’m lacing up my running shoes.

“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

Replace your treadmill with a Proverbs 27:17 partner

Aren’t you tired of taking the journey by yourself? What good things would happen in your life if you dared to invite someone into your personal growth journey this year? Who would be a great personal growth partner for you? Why not offer this person a mutually beneficial personal growth partnership for this year…and just see if a Proverbs 27:17 partnership makes any difference in your lives.

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