I STRONGLY dislike exercising, but I know it’s necessary, so every now and then, I start working out for an extended period of time, then I usually stop. A little less than a month ago, I decided that I needed to get back into the groove of working out, so I joined a group of people that exercise in Santa Ana and Irvine. It’s been a real struggle. Just waking up in the morning at 5 AM is a huge mental work out! Every morning I have to try and convince myself to roll off the bed and go. And then once I’m there, I struggle to do all the workouts.
The first week was just making sure I woke up and I didn’t pass out. The following week, I had no trouble waking up, but trying to complete all the targeted exercises and reps was still a difficult task. Partly because I am still getting back into shape, but also because I started off setting the bar lower for myself. I typically aim to do about 70% of what I’m supposed to do. For example, if the goal was to do (30) squats, (25) mountain climbers, and (20) burpees, I typically aim for 25, 20, and 15, respectively. The sad truth is, in my head, this is all I thought I was capable of doing. I didn’t believe I could do any better. But a couple of days ago, I went to a workout that changed my perspective of my physical capabilities.
Our trainer, the amazing Wendy, informed the group via social media that she was not going to be available the next morning, but she posted the workout of the day so we could do it on our own. So the following morning, after doing my mental argument of whether to roll out of bed, I arrived at the park where we exercise to a group of about 10 people. Because we were missing our leader, everyone was standing around, not falling into our normal routine. It made sense, since no one was there to tell us what to do, nor was anyone given authority in our leader’s absence. I’m not sure why, but because no one was taking initiative and a leader was clearly needed, I volunteered myself to take charge. Without a democratic vote, I started commanding them, expecting everyone to question my qualifications for this role (I wasn’t necessarily the most “fit” for the position), but no one did.
When I went to the center and started to lead them, I shifted my mentality from doing only 70% of the workout to doing the whole thing. I was shocked! I was suddenly doing every single rep and I was doing it with much better form than normal! Not only that, I was pushing and encouraging everyone else to keep up! After the workout, I was so pumped and proud of myself, but I was trying to figure out where this extra energy came from. It was then that I realized that I always had it in me. Leading had changed the way I exercised for a number of reasons:
1. People Were Looking at Me
When no one is looking at me, many times I am tempted to try half as hard or find the easy way out, especially when it comes to stuff that I am not passionate about. But when people are looking at me, I know for a fact that my performance, attitude, and words will affect them, therefore I must be all in! There is no time to second-guess whether I can or cannot do it – I must do it!
2. I Had A Teacher
Even though I had never led a workout group before, it wasn’t difficult to figure out what to do because I had a great trainer who modeled how to do it. She works out alongside us, demonstrates how to do each workout properly, leads us as we count our reps, and pushes us and encourages us to keep going! As I led, I just thought back to what our leader did and I tried my best to replicate that.
Now that I’ve had the opportunity to lead, my perception of what I am physically capable of doing has changed and it’s made me realize that leading others is very important. It makes me wonder if that is one of the reasons why Jesus charged us to rise up and lead others. I mean, he didn’t have to include us as part of His plan, but he chose to. Before physically leaving, Jesus left us with this command:
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 NIV)
I confidently believe that in a divided world full of people looking for someone or something to lead them, Jesus has called ALL OF US to rise up and lead others! But many times, we don’t answer the call – maybe because we think it’s easier not to, or maybe because we think that we’re not able to meet the mark, even if we tried. But when we choose to answer the call and lead, we start noticing those who are looking at us and we become more intentional with our performance, attitude, and words, because it affects them. Also, we have Jesus, who is our mentor, teacher, leader, and so many more things, who modeled how to lead and love others. We can look to Him for direction – He says that He is with us always, to the very end of the age! And lastly, just like I had that extra energy that I was not aware of, we have been gifted with the Holy Spirit, who gives us the energy to run non-stop!
Hopefully, these reminders will keep you from second-guessing whether you can or cannot do it – you must do it!
Felipe Vazquez is one of the pastors for Newsong Youth. You can follow him on Instagram @flipvazquezii