On the plains of hesitation lie the blackened bones of countless millions who at the dawn of victory lay down to rest, and in resting died.” – Adlai Stevenson
I’ve been on summits in North Wales and the Scottish highlands, and deep in caves in the Cheddar gorge in Somerset, and I’ve found a common trait for those who are feeling uneasy, frightened, and out of their depth: They sit down.
I’ve seen people scoot along on their butts, leaving little butt impressions in the snow. I’ve seen people descend a mountain that has clearly defined steps (just like those in your home) step by excruciating step… on their bums. I’ve seen men who are able to stand and walk decide that the safest course of action is to slide on their backside. None of these techniques are effective, mind you. They are slow, destroy your pants, and in many cases–more dangerous than simply walking on two feet.
What is it that brings people to their butts? It’s fear–plain and simple–brought on by heights, depths, and unfamiliar terrain. I get that. During Global Adventure events, we have people of all abilities, backgrounds, ages, and outdoor experience, so we’re not used to someone who is pushing their comfort zone. In fact, we encourage it!
And we understand that not everyone is as comfortable with heights, darkness, cold, wet, depths, etc. But what is most frustrating is that people won’t trust. Trust their equipment, trust their leaders, or trust their smarts. We strive to teach people new skills and give people new experiences in a safe but challenging way, but that’s the easy part. The third part of that puzzle that we focus on, to develop relationships in communities and families, is the hard one.
As Tim Miles and I lead groups “into the unknown,” we have to deal with those are struggling with fear and doubt. And sometimes, this means literally pulling people to their feet and forcing them to walk rather than to sit. But this mirrors what is happening in people’s hearts – they are sitting down, wallowing in fear and depression, when they should look up, enjoy their surroundings [and blessings], and trust in their friends and family around them.
Stand Up And Walk!
One of our goals as leaders should be to equip others to walk through challenges successfully. On the mountain, we literally equip them: with a map to guide their way, with boots to give them grip, and with some personal skills to stay safe in the outdoors. But in a family or a community or a church, that means parents and leaders have to equip others with emotional support, mental toughness, and spiritual guidance.
That might mean a shoulder to cry on, or a sounding board to shout at. It means a heart to serve and some backbone to stand up for what we believe in.
This is massively lacking in people today: that grit, tenacity, just plain guts to wrestle with something difficult and see it through until it’s done. Our attention spans have been trained by society, news, media, and the internet to fizzle out after 2 minutes, but we must convince people that the reward is worth the incentive, no matter what field you’re in.
And here, the reward gets bigger, much bigger than ourselves or selfish desires. As leaders, we’re giving others direction and inspiration that transcends our immediate surroundings. We understand that we mess up all the time but we can still be forgiven and we have a Father that wants the best for us. As leaders that “father-heart” is what we want to role model.
Keep Going, Don’t Stop!
As the Adlai Stevenson quote states, it’s often on the cusp of victory that we decide to sit. It’s only those who are willing to fight through the pain and the fear, in the hopes of a glorious summit, that will reach their goals. Don’t be part of those countless millions who have sat down–be one of the ones who trust in their leaders, trust in their equipment, and trust in their God!