Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Credit Where Credit Is Due?

For several years I, along with other Alaskan clergy colleagues, have been wearing a pedometer which measures how many steps I take in a day.  Our denomination’s wellness plan has a website where I can download my step count each day.  From time to time, there are contests where the spirit of competition motivates some to take even more steps than usual.  Throughout the time I’ve worn the pedometer, I’ve learned a lot about myself.  For instance…
·         I can go to work and have a “normal” day and still only take 3,000 steps;
·         Most Sundays I can have over 7,000 steps by noon (I must wander physically as well as homiletically as I preach);
·         Contests do not bring the best out of me…I take far too much glee in out-stepping younger, skinnier colleagues;
·         With my current work situation and home life, to maintain an average of 12,000 steps per day requires more than two or three exercise sessions per week.

But, most surprising to me is that I’ve learned how important it is to me to have those steps entered, recorded, and credited to my wellness website.  Last weekend I took a 9-mile hike in the Chugach mountains.  That was the longest hike I’ve taken in some time.  I was looking forward to seeing how many steps I ran up on the pedometer.  After 5 hours of hiking, I finally got back to my car and eagerly pulled out the pedometer.  I’d already done some ‘guesstimating.’  I was sure it was going to show at least 30,000 steps.  Imagine my disappointment when it was frozen on 15,000 and the low battery warning was on.  Worse was how devastated I felt when I later tried to download even those few steps only to have the website credit me for 0 steps that day.  Zero…zip…nada. 

I felt as if the entire hike was a waste of time.  Five hours climbing up to a cirque to see a hidden lake were gone.  Five hours of enjoying scenery which some travel thousands of miles to experience were meaningless.  Five hours of walking with my canine companion Scout and enjoying his boundless enthusiasm and benefitting from his ability to find alternate routes when the trail seemed to peter out were without value.  None of that mattered, it seemed, because I could not see those steps on my wellness site bar graph where all my other steps were counted and neatly piled on their respective days. 

What is up with that?  Surrounded by the God’s gracious gift of beauty, I still want some form of credit; something to show how much it cost me to enjoy God’s grace in creation.  I’ll go ahead and admit it…there’s something seriously wrong with that picture.

Perhaps, on some deep spiritual/psychological level, I am so overwhelmed by God’s grace that I must compensate through some pitiful effort in telling the world (or, at least that website) how many steps it took for me to experience something for which I can take absolutely no credit.  My Midwestern-work-ethic-inspired values demand “credit where credit is due.”  My relationship with a Creator whose Son died for me reminds me I have no such claim. 

Maybe this is one elaborate form of “pay back” for some thoughts I had a few weeks ago when a colleague had the very same thing happen to him.  He told of how he emailed the website and asked to be credited for his lost steps.  And, within a day or two, he got them credited to his wellness page.  His bar graph had no gaps.  I remember thinking, “Wow…get over it…a few thousand steps…get a life!”

Yup…you guessed it.  I sent the email requesting steps last night.

Pray for me.


  1. I lost 5000 steps yesterday as well. Made me very upset. And, yes, I wondered if those steps were "worth" it. Also, I lament when I leave the house without the pedometer. It gives me a horrible sinking feeling.

  2. If this is what a pedometer does to us, what will a church dashboard do???