Jan
19
2010

Expedition behavior

Our gathering Jan. 17 started our conversation about the journey we take together as Christians in community:

12“Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them. Add up God’s Law and Prophets and this is what you get.

13-14“Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention. (Matt:7:12-14)

Here at the end of his “Sermon on the Mount” – or what Brian McLaren calls his Kingdom Manifesto – Jesus calls his disciples to a challenging journey. Following Jesus is not a show, not a switch we flip on and off, but a journey that we take for our entire lives, in our vigorous, attentive moments and in our weaker, more distracted moments as well.

The best part is that Jesus does not call us to prepare for and walk this journey alone. He’s given us each other to both offer our gifts and to help carry each other when we are not able to walk on our own.

In 1 Corinthians 12 St. Paul has a beautiful description of how God weaves a whole out of the individual strands of our gifts and weaknesses:

God’s various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God himself is behind it all. Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people! The variety is wonderful:

wise counsel

clear understanding

simple trust

healing the sick

miraculous acts

proclamation

distinguishing between spirits

tongues

interpretation of tongues.

All these gifts have a common origin, but are handed out one by one by the one Spirit of God. He decides who gets what, and when.

What jumps out at you from this text?

Here’s another similar list:

In the 1970s the National Outdoor Leadership School started using the experience of nature and wilderness to teach people about leadership. Out of there work developed a set of principles known as Expedition Behavior that are now taught to people from Boy Scout campers to Wharton MBAs. Even the Lutheran Magazine drew upon EB for a recent article about the faith journey:

The founder [of the National Outdoor Leadership School NOLS] Paul Petzoldt, believed one thing determined the success of an expedition more than anything else: expedition behavior.
EB means being prepared, on time, organized, flexible and humble; seeing the humor in everything; exercising a tolerance for adversity, uncertainty and discomfort; and putting the needs of the group and others on the same level or above one’s own needs. It’s a tall order but while on expedition it has magical results.
Petzoldt said it’s not the challenge of the environment that defeats expeditions but the quality of the interaction among the participants. This is borne out in research and experience. Successful courses at NOLS are committed to expedition behavior.

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What do you hear in this list?

Do you view these lists as things you either have or don’t have?


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It seems to me that this is more a momentary list than an eternal list. We are sometimes prepared and sometimes not, sometimes humble and sometimes not. Just as Luther had the brilliant insight that our goodness and justification is not an either-or but a both-and – we are at the same time saints and sinners – so we are at the same time flexible and rigid to some degree; at the same time wise and trusting and foolishly self-absorbed.

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Does it help to look at your faith journey as a both-and rather than an either-or?

St. Paul described the Christian community as functioning like a human body, with hands, hearts, eyes and mouths having their own roles but contributing to the overall work. But we are not just any body – we are Christ’s body.

Here’s how Paul summed it up:

12-13You can easily enough see how this kind of thing works by looking no further than your own body. Your body has many parts—limbs, organs, cells—but no matter how many parts you can name, you’re still one body. It’s exactly the same with Christ. By means of his one Spirit, we all said good-bye to our partial and piecemeal lives. We each used to independently call our own shots, but then we entered into a large and integrated life in which he has the final say in everything. (This is what we proclaimed in word and action when we were baptized.) Each of us is now a part of his resurrection body, refreshed and sustained at one fountain—his Spirit—where we all come to drink. (1 Corinthians 12)

Where have you seen the Spirit working in this way recently?

What opportunities have you had to be part of a body working together?

Written by Bob Fisher in: gatherings,spirituality |

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