Sunday’s Scripture ~ Deuteronomy 34:1-12.
This past weekend I had the privilege of attending the first Florida Conference Spring Confirmation Retreat with TUMC’s Confirmands. Under the wonderful leadership of Alaine Gorman and the incredible mentoring of Dan Hood, our students had a fantastic weekend of learning, fellowshipping, and maturing in their faith.
I heard the worship speaker was pretty good, too. *wink*
One of our Saturday activities was to complete elements on a low-ropes challenge course. These elements typically involve balancing in tight spaces, steadying in large spaces, and maneuvering in narrow spaces. And for fun…why not complete the element without talking…or out of a group of nine, only one person can talk…
And it is not uncommon to select the least verbose in the group for this speaking role.
Low-ropes challenge course elements encourage critical thinking, communication, and teamwork – sounds like a good recipe for mindful and engaged leadership in the local church! During their time on the course, we watched our students find their voices, take the lead, encourage another leader, and take risks.
One element was a 12×12 grid. Their task: move from one side of the grid to another, one square at a time, according to a map that only the low-ropes facilitator could see and the students had to figure out through trial and error. Some students stepped from their starting square to the next potential square with great enthusiasm while others were cautious in not wanting to fail. They did not want to let down the team. They wanted to be correct in their choices. It was clear they wanted to succeed, to win.
It is good to want to be correct and successful. But I know that I miss out on the deeper meaning of experiences when I am tunnel-visioned on correctness and success.
It bear repeating – when you have the choice between being right and kind – choose to be kind.
Together the team of nine students – TUMC’s five and four from Peace UMC in Orlando – completed the maze. That was their last element before lunch. As we walked back to the lodge I asked the students about how the felt when they chose a correct square on the grid versus an incorrect square. Some said it was exciting; they would get to immediately try for another correct square. Others mentioned how their correct guess contributed to the team’s goal of revealing the entire map.
I mentioned how I thought their incorrect guesses also contributed to the team’s goal of revealing the entire map. They sat with that one for a minute. And then one said…”Oh, I guess that is what they mean by failing forward.”
That is it exactly. We try. We fail. We keep trying. We fail some more. And as long as we rise one more time than we fall or fail, we will succeed.
The rising – that is perseverance.
I am so proud of our Confirmands – of the faithful work they started in November and will bring to conclusion in their Confirmation Service this Spring. These students are bright, creative, thoughtful, and have some sass.
I like the sass.
They give me hope for the future of the church. Together with them under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, may we all persevere towards God’s Kingdom. May we all rise.
Prayer: “High King of heaven, my victory won, may I reach heaven’s joys, O bright heaven’s Sun! Heart of my own heart, whatever befall, still be my vision, O Ruler of all.”* Amen.
*“Be Thou My Vision,” The United Methodist Hymnal451.