Uncomfortable Constraint

adventure and privilegeOff to Uganda, you are reading this as I’ve arrived, been received at the airport by David and taken to he and his wife’s home. I’ve had a nights rest at their home (they’ve given me their bed to sleep in), and I am off to buy medicines in Kampala with Mildred today.

And constraint is all around.

The work of coming and traveling and ministering in Uganda is all about constraint. And in fact, on my last trip here, I made a list of all the constraints upon a person, that I might alert any who want to do a trip to really count the cost, seeing if they are really up for it.

For instance, in Canada we are used to our space around us. We are used to sitting in a vehicle with room for our legs and with room for our arms. In Uganda it is much different. The taxi service is more like that feeling of camping in a very cramped campsite.

My legs have no space in these vehicles. I am fairly long-legged and I must sit with a slight rotation to my hips and back in order to fit (and even then my knees are jammed into the seat in front of me). On either side are my traveling companions, some I know, most I do not. Regardless, we get used to our hips and legs in close quarters and the skin of our arms stuck together in the heat. And though the journeys are any number of hours in length, and there are no bathroom stops nor pauses to stretch, we give no sigh of disdain or contempt.

We have entered into another persons home and we will make no complaint.

My luggage is sparse. And I have ensured it is no heavier than I can carry myself. Constraint of time and space as well as energy and strength, ensures I don’t overdo my luggage, and in the consequence make a fool of myself.

The surest way to be ashamed in a developing nation, is to pack too much.

The roads are rutted, graveled and sometimes soggy from recent rains. And suitcases on wheels are a joke in the crowded city of Kampala. If you can’t carry it, don’t bring it. Constraint saves us.

The boda-boda rides (motorcycles) prove the same. Imagine your gear and suitcases strapped onto a boda-boda along with you and a driver. Imagine it, and you will ensure you do not overdo it. Constraint saves us.

The habits of minimalism do one well when in Africa. Well thought out planning and execution alongside frank consideration are must-haves. Last trip I took three pairs of socks, and didn’t put one pair on once. Silly. This time I’ve taken one pair, and very small and thin at that.

In service to the people there, my days are not my own. But years of child-raising has prepared me well; constraint on my person is certainly not unknown! Fact is, I am simply honored to be their guest, and at their disposal. “What shall we do today? Here are my thoughts and ideas, but really, you tell me.”

We somehow believe that when we enter into the most important works of our lives that we will be freer, that we will be with less responsibility and more expression. And while some of this is true, in actual fact, the greater the work, the greater the constraint upon ones person, time, stamina, and responsibility.

The CEO of a company does not carry less, but more. The president of an organization does not have it easier, but tougher. The Leader of a nation deals with more and therefore has less. The one who ministers to many can only do so as constraint is embraced and welcomed and given over to.

For instance, praying over fifty, one-hundred, two-hundred people as they come one by one, lined up and waiting… Is not about more. It is about less. How much are we willing to pour out? How much of ourselves will we give over.

The greatest works of our lives require constraint, and discipline and responsibility.

Another way of saying the identical thing – enter into constraint, discipline and increased responsibility, and your life will ooze of great works.


The Bible speaks over and over again of the little that we can bring in order for much to come of it. Nowhere does God say, ‘Come to me and I will make you great’.

Rather, it is, ‘Lose your life and you will find it’.

‘The one who is last will be first’.

Leaders are those who have determined to put their lives in service to others, be it through non-profit service, business, politics, or community involvement. They walk a hard road, without complaint and without murmur, and with much constraint.

God bless our leaders.

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