Sometime last year my husband had the opportunity to share a lesson with our local congregation. He has one prepared that I like to call “old faithful”. Rarely does he get the chance to present a lesson, but when he does, this is the one he pulls out. I really like this lesson, not only because it fondly reminds me of my husband and the way he thinks and uses nature in his relationship with God, but also because it so perfectly portrays the relationship that members within a local body of Christians should have. The lesson is entitled: Lessons on Teamwork from Geese.
In I Corinthians 12, the body of Christ is being compared to our physical bodies. Just like our bodies have many different parts with differing abilities and uses, so does our spiritual body, the church. Some members are better at teaching, some at personal evangelism, encouragement, visiting the elderly or hospitality. All are essential and necessary for the function of the whole. As Christians we all have a common goal, the hope of an eternity in Heaven. Since we share a common direction, all striving to get to the same destination, why not make the journey a little easier by helping one another out. Have you ever seen a flock of geese flying overhead, have you ever wondered why they fly in the typically seen V-shape formation? By flying in a V, the entire flock adds 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew it alone. Each goose, when flapping it’s wings, creates an “uplift” for the birds that follow*. Amazing! 71%! What an incentive to use one another in a similar fashion to “uplift” us in our efforts to live as Christians in this world around us with the Devil constantly throwing darts at us, trying to sway us from our chosen path.
When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of flying alone. As a result, it quickly moves back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front of it*. We read of this concept spiritually in Ecclesiastes 4:9-11……”Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?” As controversial as this topic is, I believe that this lesson from geese is closely related to the reason we are told to withdraw from members who walk disorderly as described in 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15. We should have such a close, loving relationship with our fellow Christians that when one “falls out of formation” they will feel the “drag”, or emptiness, of not having his fellow teammates (Christians) around and be compelled to return to the flock. We need to have the correct love and care for one another. Just as a goose has enough sense to want to stay in formation, the love of our fellow Christians should help us to stay on the path and not stray back into the world.
Whether it be carrying the gospel to foreign lands, teaching a class, sending cards, visiting the sick and elderly or just always wearing a smile, we all play a critical role within our church family. We all have a part to play and we should work together in a manner that helps to build each other up and work toward the “perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12). When the lead goose tires, it rotates back into the formation and another goose flies to the point position*. Just as the geese take turns and depend on one another, we also are dependent on one other’s skills, unique capabilities and talents. For example, do we “take our turn” when the teaching schedule is being put together, or do we decide that we’ve done enough over the years and somebody else can do it now? Are we capable of helping out in many different areas just aren’t willing to put in the time and effort that it requires?
I spend a lot of time outdoors (when the weather allows) and when a flock of geese flies overhead I always stop and watch, there’s just something about them that draws my attention, literally! Why do they make all that noise? Well, the geese honk to encourage those up front to keep up their speed*. How’s our honking? Is it encouraging? We have many opportunities to say things and talk to one another in a manner that would build up and strengthen, yet many times we say and do things that have the exact opposite effect. We are told in James 3:2-12 that the tongue is a very powerful tool and a dangerous member of our body. We need to be careful how we use it!
Finally, Romans 12:15 reads “rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.” When our fellow Christians are dealing with something, no matter what our feelings on it, we should have enough compassion and love for them to not “kick them when they’re down” but reach out to them with love and understanding, trying to help them through whatever problem they are having. When a goose gets sick, wounded, or shot, two other geese drop out of formation and follow it down to help or protect it. They stay with it either until it dies or is able to fly again. Then they launch out with another formation and catch up with the flock*. When difficult times arise, do we decide to “go it alone” or do we band together and provide strength to our weaker brethren or receive much needed strength in our own moments of weakness?
“But ask the animals, and they will teach you,
or the birds of the air, and they will tell you;
or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,
or let the fish of the sea inform you.
Which of all these does not know
that the hand of the LORD has done this?
In his hand is the life of every creature
and the breath of all mankind. (Job 12:7-10)
Everything upon this earth was made by God and in its creation exists the wisdom of God. Hopefully we will take the time to look at that creation, the beautiful, amazing world that we live in, and see the Majesty and Glory of God and learn from those things that we see.
*The Goose Facts came from an article entitled “The Power of the Flock” by Reverend Ervin G. Roorda found in The Saturday Evening Post Jan/Feb. 2005. He had quoted a piece written by Angeles Arrien. That is the article that inspired my husband’s thoughts about Geese and Teamwork within a local congregation
By Margot Mantle
Margot and her husband, Jason, worship with the Hazelwood Church of Christ in Hazelwood, MO. She has been a stay at home mom since her two boys were little (they’re teens now). She has a small interior decorating business and has just begun a website for ladies’ Bible study. She hopes to connect with other women through it.