I was headed to Crested Butte, CO for an epic fly fishing trip. I was reluctant to go with a guide because I thought I should just figure it out myself. How vain and foolish that thinking was. As I look back on my decision to ignore my pride and partner up with a professional guide, I realize now that humility has some great rewards.
My recent trip to the San Juan Islands north of Seattle causes me to consider how to resist the rising tide of excuses in my life. How do we apply the adage “just do it” to our journey as a follower of Jesus? Outdoor recreation helps us break the habit of making excuses.
What makes some leaders more influential? There is no formula, but there are some indicators that successful leaders do things differently. For example they benefit from criticism, they surround themselves with mentors, they do not lack confidence, they are not preoccupied with success, and they are not afraid to make mistakes.
I smell the presence of snow. Tiny crystals of water float loosely in heavy crisp air. Each breath refreshes and soothes the cavities of my nose with moisture. The maturing fall season triggers a conditioned reflex response. I salivate for my first turns on untracked pristine white snow.
For many youth today, their ipod or iphone is more important for them to have close at hand than anything else in their backpack. Since outdoor ministry is about first about transformation, outdoor leaders who understand the art of facilitation need to view this seeming obstacle to a “true wilderness experience”, as an opportunity to help young people see how their addiction to connectivity might be wounding their soul.
My friend Steve White writes about how God used time in the wilderness to show him that all his life he had been a workaholic. His wounds made him aloof to the needs of his wife and children, and ultimately led his family to a complete train wreck. In Steve’s words, the reason why his family went through such brokenness was because as a man, he had spent most of his adult life, “Blinded by Good Intentions.” If you are looking for men’s ministry ideas or inspiration to start a men’s ministry, this is a good place to start. Steve gave me permission to share a few excerpts from his book, “Blinded by Good Intentions”.
The ropes course was thrilling, but I knew that my soul needed to be refilled. The wilderness was wooing me. I’m not just into the adventure. I’m into adventures with Jesus. With that attitude, outdoor adventures becomes another opportunity to experience God.
Most backcountry enthusiasts follow the mantra, “leave no trace.” Like the attitudes we cop when we have to “share the trail” with someone who is doing something different than us, I was reminded on the trail this past weekend that our sin can also leave a measurable impression. Like so many spiritual metaphors, time in the outdoors is a wikipedia of object lessons. We may think we are without sin or our rebellion only affects ourselves but more likely our behavior leaves a trail “littered with loose debris.”
Oswald Chambers’ devotional, My Utmost for His Highest is chocked full with wisdom and illustrations for outdoor ministry applications. One my favorites is his October 2nd reflection, “The Sphere of Humiliation,” based on the mountain of transfiguration in Mark 9:2-32.