Journal entry 021011: On the path together

The question Clark placed on the table was this: “Which is worse, (a) being on the wrong path? or (b) being alone on the path?”

The path, in this case, describes the trajectory of our life, God’s will, purpose, and direction for our life. Just as there are physical paths that lead to predictable physical locations, there are spiritual paths that are equally predictable.

The question was especially timely when I first read it Sunday morning; I was ruminating on a story we’d been discussing in our adult Bible study group about Elisha, who shared God’s instructions with a widow, the mother of a young boy. Elisha said, “Go away with your family and stay for a while wherever you can.” (II Kings 8:1, NIV).

I don’t know how you feel, but when I seek God’s path for my life, I want more details than that. “Go someplace else and stay awhile,” doesn’t seem like enough.

So I tried Clark’s question out on several friends just to get their first thoughts. Most people answered (a); it would be worse to be on the wrong path. I can’t argue with them. I think that might be the best answer for most situations.

As for me, I have no problem going down the path alone if I think I’m right, and most of the time I think I’m right. It’s one of my core personality traits to trust my own judgment first.

I don’t think it’s about arrogance, although arrogance is one of those qualities you can’t see in yourself; it’s just that I know how much I read and how much informed news I listen to, and I know that I am a good student of ideas, so when I trust my own opinion that means I’m trusting my own catalogue of researched thoughts and ideas.

I’m not obstinate about it. I often change my mind, but only after I’m convinced the other opinion comes from an intelligent mind that doesn’t draw all its ideas from one single book or a single talk-radio personality or a single TV program.

The reason I’m going on-and-on about this is because when considering whether it’s worse to be on the wrong path or be alone on the path, well that was an easy choice for me for most of my life. I would always choose my path, and I never cared if I was alone. I never minded being the lone dissenting vote.

Nowadays, however, I’m not so sure about that. Not that I want to be on the wrong path, but even less do I want to be on any path alone. The biggest lesson of my life these past years has been the value of having trusted traveling companions.

If I’m alone on the path, even a path I’m convinced is correct, it leaves me captive to my own judgment. Since I won’t doubt myself, I’ll keep going along even if the right path becomes the wrong path. Maybe that’s confidence, or maybe stubbornness, it’s hard to distinguish.

But if I have traveling companions, I can trust our collective judgments. My companions can point out my mistakes and keep me going when I get exhausted. If I’m on the wrong path, but with my trusted band of Godly men, I have a fighting chance to recover and get back right. I am more likely to stay on the correct path when traveling in community.

Fortunately, as Christ-followers, we never have to travel His path alone. In fact, by definition we cannot be alone if we are on His path. Jesus never lays out the path before us just to send us on our way, rather he says simply, “Follow Me.” We are always traveling with Him.

Seth Godin, premier business guru and futurist, wrote in his blog (2-9-11), “Self-sufficiency appears to be a worthy goal, but it’s now impossible if you want to actually get anything done. All our productivity, leverage, and insight come from being part of a community, not apart from it. The goal, I think, is to figure out how to become MORE dependent, not less.”

Mr. Godin is correct, and not just regarding business. I’m grateful for the community of path-walkers who surround me. So Clark, my answer to your question is (b). I don’t want to travel alone.


“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32

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