Over the years I’ve had a love/hate relationship with running. Wait, I shouldn’t say that, my kids may read this. Let me start over… Over the years I’ve had a love/dislike relationship with running (that’s better). I guess I really shouldn’t fault running. It isn’t running that’s to blame, it’s me. After all, running offers so much.

When I run, I’m out in the fresh air, alone with my music and my thoughts. I do some of my best planning and strategizing when I’m running.

When I run I’m refreshed. It’s really amazing, but I have more energy after I run than before. I know there are plenty of medical explanations as to why this is, but it’s still astonishing how so much energy can be expended only to result in more energy being available. I’m always invigorated after a run.

When I run I feel better about myself. It’s a feeling of accomplishment. I like to time my runs and I’m always looking to beat the previous day’s effort. It’s competition with the only person I can beat, me, and it gives me the confidence to challenge myself the next day.

All that being said, you’d think I was a running enthusiast. I’ve just listed all of the benefits I receive from running, so where is the hatred, excuse me kids, the dislike of running? Well as I said, it’s me and my shortcomings that make the relationship tenuous. Besides being thoughtful, invigorating and confidence-building, it’s demanding, exhausting, and painful.

Running asks, no, demands, that I get out of bed earlier than I’d like. Even with all of it’s benefits, when the alarm goes off, all of its advantages are outweighed in my mind by an extra 60-90 minutes of sleep. After all, I’m supposed to get 8 hours every night, right? If I get up and run I won’t meet that quota, so my mind, the lazy half, tells me to stay in bed and often I do.

Running is also exhausting. I know I said it was invigorating, but that comes after, while I am running it’s a struggle. Often, it takes all of the self-determination I can muster to make it that next mile. I just want to stop and walk. Sometimes, unfortunately, my mind gives in quicker than my body and I give up.

Painful is another way to describe running. I can admit, I’m not young any more. My body doesn’t react to the punishment of running the way it used to. My runs are often filled with pain in my hips, legs, ankles, and feet.

But, despite all of these negatives, I still run. Why? Because of the benefits I receive. The results are worth the sacrifice.

I’m often tempted to view service in the same negative light as I view running and fail to act, because, service can be demanding, exhausting, and painful.

Service demands we get out of our comfort zone. It may not be comfortable for us to talk to someone who needs help. Maybe we are embarrassed or think they will be. It demands that we not be afraid to do the right thing.

Service can also be exhausting. It requires work and effort. Often long hours of labor or late night phone calls. We may reach a point where we feel we can’t do anymore and want to quit.

Pain is also a part of service. Witnessing tragedy, turmoil, and death is heart breaking and we may be tempted to say we don’t have the strength to face the sorrow. But, turning our heads doesn’t make it go away.

We must always remember the benefits of service are much the same as those of running and it’s results are worth the sacrifice. Here are 3 reasons you need to take time for service everyday.

1. Service makes you thoughtful. Witnessing others living without helps you appreciate what you have. Often, we take the simple things for granted or think the things we have are too simple. We want bigger and better instead of being thankful for what we have. Serving people that have nothing helps refocus your perspective.

2. Serving makes you invigorated. It’s just like running. Although it often requires exhaustive effort, the high you feel from doing for others is unmatched. There may be times when you feel you can’t go any further. That’s when you focus, fight through the pain, and run the race to its completion. No race is won by giving up in the middle and no need is met by walking away when things get tough.

3. Service makes you confident. We grow only when we are challenged.  When we face difficulties and refuse to give up, it’s easier to persevere the next time. With every act of service, you gain more assurance that you can meet the next need you encounter.

Remember the words of the prophet Isaiah in chapter 40,
31 But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.

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