Be Prepared

Posted on Sep 3, 2014

“Be prepared.”   The Boy Scout motto.  “Be prepared” stands as a wonderful work phrase for my life.  From my Scouting experience as a Tenderfoot through Eagle Scout, it guided me. Practical lessons from Mr. Boyd, our Scout Master, about setting up camp: “tents first, water second, fire third, food fourth, then fun” still ring true in my setting priorities.  “Be prepared” speaks into daily life, adventure, travel, work, and so many other life expressions.
Sidebar:  To Be Prepared is greater than having a plan.  In the dynamics of business and ministry of this century, preparation is greater than planning.  The focus of the late 1990’s on “long range plans”, “current action plans”, and “goals, plans, actions” no longer speaks into the fluidity of current climates.  Plans cannot keep up with the pace of action around us.  The current action of deterioration in denominational status and programs moves rapidly.  The present and real recession in business and economic life continues to spin out consequences.  The current action of building new expressions of Church for God’s people carries a momentum all its own.  While we cannot anticipate what God is doing or where God will lead, we are to Be Prepared to see, be amazed, and to move when directed (see Bill Black on Behold! Isaiah 43: 19). 
(Editorial subnote question:  How does last sentence compare and contrast to Blackaby’s Experiencing God lessons?)
In Isaiah 43: 19 God declares “See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”
The context of the passage is a new way home from Babylonian exile for God’s people. 
The implication for God’s people is to prepare themselves to move.  The command to move is not there.  But the anticipation is there.  Be Prepared for the moment and the movement. Be Prepared sits at the end of hope.
Survival
Be Prepared also speaks into survival.  The following thoughts on survival point me and those of us in resort ministry to be prepared.  They are not intended as anticipation of looming disaster nor are they intended to be a “self-fulfilling prophecy” (to borrow from Scott Capshaw).  They do recognize that we are on the edge of great changes in systems of support and affirmation. 
To go into Boy Scout tradition and material once again, I would quote from the Fieldbook For Boys AndMen that I often studied as a Boy Scout:
“Most of us, in doing fairly ordinary things, are close to disaster at one time or another.  Mostly things work out fine and we blink away any sense of danger.  But then up crops the broken ankle, the dry radiator, the turn of weather, wheels deep in sand, or the flapping rudder—and suddenly things are different.  In itself it may not seem to serious, but things seem to snowball, and you realize you are alone, lost, adrift, cut off, wrecked, stuck, the radio is dead, or the electricity is gone for good.  Now you are on your own …you need help.
How soon will help come?  Will it come?  Does anyone know?  When will they start looking? How?  Can you manage until they come? What are your urgent needs now and until help arrives?
…You must survive until safe.  So after sustaining life through first aid, STOP!  Try to figure out what kind of a jam you are in.  Relax, if only for a few minutes, and fight off any feelings of panic.  Saying a prayer might not be a bad idea.”
“Then see how these things might fit into the puzzle somehow:  signals to searchers or possible rescuers; shelter to prevent injury from the elements; fire for signaling, cooking, and cheer or warmth; water to sustain life; food for cheer and energy; tools to obtain food, improve shelter, and afford protection; and finally, some means of travel if that is your only hope.  Keep first things first.  Survive until safe.”
“If moraleis your strongest weapon in your fight for life, probably the greatest defense you can have against adversity and despair will be your reliance on inner strengths developed through your religion.” 
Fieldbook For Boys AndMen;  Boy Scouts of America;  1967,  pp. 300, 301, 332
Signals
Signals:    Face facts:  we have been abandoned;  we are on our own;  we must recognize that we must have outside help; 
Clear message of who we are; what has happened;   (without recrimination on those who set us free and without seeing as judgment of God on self or ministry)
Clear message of what our hope is; what our goals are
Clear message of where we are going; what our work is; invitation to join with us; 
Accurate communication   –what instruments of communication needed and necessary to get message out
Shelter
Shelter:   protection from the elements that seek to draw our energy
Place of security and home
Biblical image of pilgrims in camp and on journey with God watching over (Ps 121)
Breathing space; comfort;
What this looks like in survival mode:  less than where we were;  roughing it;  gradually into greater    From Tom Hanks in Cast Away to Swiss Family Robinson—not instantaneous
Fire
Fire:  “The Church exists by mission even as fire exists by burning.”  Emil Bruner
Hold on to passion  –beyond the blows to identity and selfhood;  this is not about “you”
Keep mission:   clear vision and task
Avoid mission creep where we are doing more than supposed to do, thinking that is necessary for money or survival
Water
Water:  Sustainer of life; Greater need for water than food;
Finding God as source of spring of life;  
Flow of Holy Spirit;   Going with flow of where Spirit leads;  Staying in channel of what God wants us to do;   Point about flow:  we are not in control  –God is;  we do not paddle to go against current but to stay in it;  we float with flow;
Food
Food:  Food groups:  meat; grains; fruits and vegetables; dairy  
Versus  my food groups of barbeque; seafood; chocolate; potato chips
Food groups:  Identify what is needed:  Money; church support; friends united in caring; board with mission; ability to continue to work (we get our identity from where and how we minister) –point is that we are not spending all our time on development or management;
Hunting, Fishing, Edible plants (section in Fieldcraft book)  —learning new skills necessary for survival   –boards, economic development, non-profit management, sales (of organization), program development, capital improvement, etc.
Tools
Tools:  New systems for:   volunteers; partners; equipment; offices; housing; etc.
New styles of ministry funding
New ministry possibilities (without limits of denominational requirements)  (again, avoid mission creep)
New ministry styles and expressions (with freedom of self/board determination)
Travel
Some means of travel:  Most survival is “stay in place”   “Get found”    Rare and powerful occasion:  Move
Find the right system for accomplishing call; for ministry
Denominational vehicle / system ending;   
Find new;
Create new
Search out correct models; Establish correct and accountable system; Adapt it as necessary;
Point:   God called person for God called ministry;   Search out the God given means of getting there
Morale
Keeping morale in times of stress:   outside help; inside help;
Keep the faith;  
Trust as stepping out /   Trust as letting go
A new way to struggle