“Love of Christ does not distract us from interest in others, but rather invites us to responsibility for them, to the exclusion of no one….”
St. John Paul II
I’m struggling to find my groove again as a "road warrior." After a two-year hiatus, I am rusty to say the least. I’ve been trying to relearn or revise my regular travel rhythms in a travel dynamic that’s still anything but regular. For my first few flights of the year I forgot, for example, about my need to be hydrated and therefore the highly correlated need to get up from my seat multiple times during the flight, which is further highly correlated to my preference to sit in the aisle seat so as to not inconvenience my row mate (or more honestly, my desire to not have to depend on others). But alas, on my last flight I foolishly selected the window and was trapped. Thankfully the center seat was empty, but the aisle seat was occupied by a slightly older gentleman who yelled at the flight attendant within the first 10 minutes of the flight and subsequently fell into a deep sleep. "Oh great," I thought, as I felt the first instance of needing to tap him on the shoulder to allow me to pass. Waiting as long as possible, I disturbed his slumber and was met with a deep scoff as he reluctantly got up. We still had four hours to go. By the third time, I began to ponder if dehydration was really that big of a deal. I chose hydration and my friend chose to let me know how he felt about my choice. "I didn’t pay for an aisle seat to have to be woken up every 45 minutes," he said sternly. Worried that the lavatory green light might soon turn red again, I leaned in and responded, "that’s exactly what you paid for."
As I prayed that no further trips would be necessary, I couldn’t help but think about the exchange and how it related to what I "buy," or better said, what I say yes to. How often do I accept an opportunity or an invitation, or insist on a preference or a course of action without really considering the responsibility that is implicit in the choice? Isn’t leadership sitting in the aisle seat? We are accepting a position that requires us to move for people, with people, no matter if we want to or not. As leaders, we say yes not only to position, authority, decisions, but we say yes to people’s needs, motives, and concerns. The same is true about discipleship. In accepting my discipleship, I am not only a follower of Jesus, I am also a leader among His people. I cannot fully follow him if I don’t accept responsibility for my sisters and brothers. On my next flight, where I definitely chose the aisle, I felt my eyes begin to roll as the person next to me sheepishly tapped me on the shoulder while I was in the middle of writing this brilliant post. I caught myself and encouraged him on his journey and the subsequent 15 he needed to make. As we journey this week, let’s make sure to not only embrace our position, but also the fullness of what it calls us to in service to the Lord. Stay hydrated!