Have you ever taken a wrong turn out of sheer habit?

I live not far from the intersection of Morse and Karl Roads, a relatively busy intersection in north Columbus. Morse Road is a major thoroughfare in this area, and it happens to be the road I take out of my neighborhood to the highway that will eventually deposit me in the ever-growing Polaris area, where our church’s Administrative Offices are. Taking a right on Morse to enter the I-71 on-ramp has become second nature to me. I do it all the time.

My kids, however, go to an elementary school that requires a right turn over a mile past where I normally turn for work. It takes a concerted effort when I take them to school not to turn right to go onto I-71. I can’t remember turning erroneously onto that highway when I needed to go straight on Morse with my kids in the car, but it wouldn’t surprise me if I’d done this. After all, I’ve made similar mistakes more than once. Some mornings I’m so much on autopilot that I would hardly remember the drive when I arrive at my destination.

Psychologists could comment better than I on the neurological mechanisms that cause this behavior, but we all have our preferred routes to our normal destinations. There is nothing wrong with this, but it limits our perspective. And it is just one instance of the insular pathways in our lives that shut us off from the experience of other people.

At a meeting last year of the Columbus Faith and Work Community, Jim Mullins, a pastor and member of the Surge Network in Phoenix, suggested that Christians literally go out of their way in order to grow their heart for the city around them. He spoke of taking an alternate route to work, praying—with eyes open, of course—with senses engaged as we encounter the majestic places and the desperate places of our city. This wouldn’t need to take place in a car, but since many of us drive to work each day, crafting a prayer drive is an easy step with a marginal cost of only a few extra miles and minutes.

If we are to reach others we must constantly press against the attitude of pride we develop around our own preferences and cultures. Few things are as effective in humbling us and instilling compassion in our hearts as simple and repetitive exposure to those who are “outsiders.” Give the prayer drive to work a try for a week, or perhaps one day of the week for several weeks, and let us know how it went by leaving a comment below.

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