Every year I head up to Ontario to a national park called Quetico. This park is comprised of a million square miles of rugged wilderness and a thousand lakes. To say this place is remote is an understatement. From the hours of canoe paddling, to chopping wood, to building fires to experiencing the unrelenting elements of Mother Nature …you learn who you are and what you’re made of.
This year we read the book “Chop Wood, Carry Water” by Joshua Medcalf. This book was the perfect read for this group of guys. One night, a quote was read that stood out above the rest:
This quote is attributed to the Navy Seals and is used by them when they explain the depth and demand of their training. Simply put, it’s too late to train for war when you’re in the war. Rising to the occasion is a myth as a seal, as an athlete and as a pastor. Again…”under pressure, you don’t rise to the occasion, you sink to the level of your training”.
I know nothing of being a seal, a lot of being a former college athlete and even more about being a pastor. All week as I paddled the waters of Quetico I thought about this quote and what it could look like to apply this to my life of leading a church, a spouse and children. The more I thought about this the more I realized how this truism aligns with the writings of Dallas Willard. One of my all time favorite Dallas quotes is: “Trying hard can only accomplish so much. If you are serious…you will have to enter into a life of training.”
This kind of thinking led me back again to evaluating the key spiritual disciplines that are active or have grown dormant in my life. Spiritual disciplines are one of the key ways we TRAIN…this is something we choose to engage in long before we need the blessing of their byproducts. Spiritual disciplines lift our thinking, deepen our convictions and widen our compassion.
I’ll leave you with these thoughts:
- If you feel the rising pressure of finances, train yourself in generosity by giving away a portion of your earnings (I’ll send you my address :).
- If you feel the rising pressure of selfishness, train yourself in self-denial by meeting someone else’s needs (and try doing that without them know it was you).
- If you feel the rising pressure of self promotion, train yourself in the discipline of secrecy (or simply delete your Twitter account for a few weeks).
- If you feel the rising pressure of negativity or frustration, train yourself in gratitude (I highly recommend the 5 minute journal for this).
- If you feel the rising pressure of planting, train yourself by first doing a church planting residency program (I can help you with this).
Train yourself today, so that tomorrow you may rise to the occasion!