Reading time: two minutes. If you hike the length of the Appalachian Trail in record time, you learn some lessons about taking care of yourself. Karl Meltzer shared some thoughts about his 46 day journey, and I thought they were pretty helpful. I’ll cover three more today, and include our list so far at the end of the post. We start today with Choose to be positive. Fortunately for us children of the Lord, this is so much more than happy thoughts! It’s the difference between Elijah and Silas.Elijah had just had one of the greatest days a servant of the Lord had ever had (see 1 Kings 18) when he collapsed a day later under a broom tree, spewing out a litany of negativity and despair. He had deceived himself into thinking he was all alone and that the Lord had forgotten him. Silas, on the other hand, was experiencing one of the worst days ever when he was beaten and tossed in the Philippian jail. He responded with worship and thanksgiving (see Acts 16). We need not be captive to our thoughts. The Lord visited Elijah with a still small whisper of his word of promise and Elijah was renewed. We can choose to ignore our own negative thoughts and look with hope beyond our troubles because of God’s word of encouragement. Focus on the process. Depending on how you look at it, the church year calendar can be either a blessing or a curse. As we journey through this challenging and often very difficult journey of service in the church, the busy seasons of the church year can loom over us and cause feelings of dread and anxiety. “Here we go again. I’m not sure I can take another Advent/Christmas (Lent/Easter). It’s so exhausting! Why do I keep doing this?” On the other hand, remembering the life of Christ and the calling to proclaim Him to His followers can be invigorating and a source of great joy. We’re on a pilgrimage through this dark world, but Jesus walks with us. His becoming flesh is a comfort to us who struggle through this fleshy life. We die and rise with Him daily. We serve and grow knowing He’s at work every step of the way. Focusing on Jesus keeps us focused on the process of making disciples of Jesus. Meltzer reminds us also to Ask for help. None of us are very good at this. We’re all struggling along. But this hike of following Jesus is never taken alone. We’re a temple of living stones. We’re a body with many parts. Relying on others is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of wisdom and of faith both in God who has woven us together and in our fellow members of the body of Christ. One more bonus lesson from the ultra-marathoner. Drink coffee. I’ll stick with the decaf! Thanks for reading. Lessons from a distance runner: Pace yourself; Beat and broke down? Focus on what you can control; Practice gratitude; Choose to be positive; Drink coffee; Focus on the process; Ask for help. Do you serve in a multiple staff setting in a church, Lutheran school, university or social service ministry? Discover how a Ministry Team Wellness Workshop can help enhance your team ministry by building the unity, spiritual life and communication essential to partnership in ministry. Contact Program Director Darrell Zimmerman for more information.