Ministry team assembled from the US and Guatemala to reach the Kekchi, Peten, Guatemala

How paintballing taught me why teams matter

I don’t remember how old I was when I went paintballing for the first time. I think I was in high school. If you’ve never been paintballing, you should go. Just for the experience. It’s one of those ridiculous things people do–running around shooting each other with air-powered paint pellets. I thought it would be like a water gun fight, but it isn’t. Oh, no, it’s so much better.

But it hurts. Not going to lie.

I think we were supposed to be on teams, but I’ve never been really good at competing in a group. I’m not coordinated at all, and I usually have to move at my own pace, which is significantly slower than other people. So I don’t like being on a team with others because I slow them down, and that makes me feel guilty. It always has. So I prefer to be on my own.

But in paintballing…. well, let’s just say it’s better to have a team mate. Because when you end up charging at someone, your partner can take them out … just not before they shoot you three times point blank in the chest …. I won’t mention names (*cough-cough-Jimmy-Dinsmore-cough-cough*).

It’s better not to charge into battle without someone who’s got your back. You’ve seen in all those movies where the hero tells his sidekick to cover him? It’s like that. Somebody to help you out in the heat of battle so you can accomplish more than you could alone.

And maybe the paintballing metaphor is a little much, but it still gets the point across in my brain. If I’d had backup that day, sure I still would have gotten shot (three times point blank in the chest, Jimmy Dinsmore) but I would have had somebody behind me to pick up where I left off.

Today’s verses are Numbers 11:16-17.

Ministry team assembled from the US and Guatemala to reach the Kekchi, Peten, Guatemala

Ministry team assembled from the US and Guatemala to reach the Kekchi, Peten, Guatemala

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Gather before me seventy men who are recognized as elders and leaders of Israel. Bring them to the Tabernacle to stand there with you. I will come down and talk to you there. I will take some of the Spirit that is upon you, and I will put the Spirit upon them also. They will bear the burden of the people along with you, so you will not have to carry it alone.”

Moses is regarded as one of the greatest leaders in the history of the world, even by secular scholars. But even he wasn’t above his fair share of whining. Just being honest. And Numbers 11 is one of those chapters where Moses has had it with Children of Israel, and because they won’t quit whining, Moses takes it up with God.

And God, instead of smiting Moses for complaining, gives him this advice. God tells him to gather a certain number of people who are recognized and respected, and God would appoint them as rulers over the Children of Israel along with Moses, so Moses wouldn’t have to do it all by himself.

Aren’t you glad God understands our need for teams, even if we don’t? Honestly, I think Moses probably could have elected those 70 elders without God’s permission. He didn’t need God to tell him that it was allowed. He just wasn’t used to working as part of a team, I’m sure. Or maybe he wasn’t used to delegating. Or maybe he had my problem and didn’t want to slow others down because he couldn’t move as fast as they wanted.

In any case, Moses couldn’t manage the entirety of the Israelite nation by himself, and that’s why God told him to get a team together. And that principle is still good to remember today. Or do you think you can handle your life by yourself?

God has put some amazing people in our lives, and they’d probably be thrilled to death if you asked them for help. Don’t believe Satan’s lies that you have to do everything alone. That’s not true, and that’s not what God intended for you.

So what great challenge are you facing right now? How about next week? Or next month? Maybe even next year, if you’re planned out that far in advance. What do you have to do that is too much for you?

Yes, God is on your side. He’ll never leave your or forsake you. He’ll give you supernatural strength to be able to do things beyond your own capacity. But He’s also put people in your path to be on your team, people who love you, people who want to help you, people will skills that you don’t have. Don’t forget about them. Don’t cut them out. Don’t deny them the blessing of being able to be a part of what God is doing in your life.

Being tough is fine. Being stupid about it? That’s something else entirely.

Q'eqchi School on the hill

Being tough and stubborn only wears you out

I’m pretty tough. And I’m really stubborn. A friend once told me he could outlast me in stubbornness because he was Irish. I had to inform him that I was Irish and Scottish, so he was doomed. And I have had many friends tell me they wished they could be tough, but let me tell you, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. And when you throw stubbornness and pride into the mix too, it’s a recipe for disaster.
There isn’t much I can’t handle on my own. I don’t say it to be proud. It’s just the truth. But that means I grow accustomed to walking in my own strength and relying on my ability to understand things. So when the days come (and they have come) that I can’t handle something, I falter.
Q'eqchi School on the hill

Q'eqchi School on the hill - Esfuerzo II, Peten, Guatemala

 The most difficult physical circumstance I’ve ever experienced was my trip to Guatemala in 2011. I have posted my journal about the trip, and the two others I’ve taken, here on this blog. Please understand I’ve been on a lot of rough trips, and I wasn’t worried or scared. But I was acclimated to an office job.

Our goal was a little Q’eqchi village deep in wilderness area, called Esfuerzo II. We had to ride a four-wheel-drive vehicle to get to the beginning of the path, and then the only way there was hiking or on horseback.

So when we hit the road and started hiking (because I refused to ride a horse), I didn’t anticipate how quickly I would dehydrate. I’d drank all my water and still couldn’t start sweating again, and we were only halfway there. I knew I was in trouble, but I thought I could keep going. Why? Because I’m tough. And I’m stubborn. And I should have stopped right then and asked for a horse. I thought about it. But I don’t like horses, and I don’t feel comfortable with them. And I figured I would cause more trouble if I tried riding one. So I pushed on and didn’t say anything.

Well, I didn’t push on long. I was so fried I could hardly walk, and I’m thankful I had someone on the trip with me who’s more stubborn than I am (yes, Colonel, I’m talking about you). I ended up on a horse for the rest of the way (I would never have made it otherwise), and then the village found some gringo-size horses for us to ride back. And they got the biggest kick of watching me trying to mount a horse on a plastic chair. Probably the best entertainment they’d had in months.

I remembered this story when I read today’s verse, Philippians 4:13.

“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”

It’s a common verse, one just about every Christian knows. But I think we know it so well that we think we don’t have to live it. Or it’s one of those verses that falls to the backs of our minds because we’ve heard it so many times.

What if we could really live like that? What if we could actually live every moment in Christ’s strength instead of our own? I know people who do, and I want to get there. Because living in my own strength, I’m limited. In my own strength, there are things I can’t accomplish, and I don’t to miss an opportunity to do something amazing for God just because I was too stubborn to accept His strength and tried to achieve it on my own.

I’m not saying that Christ is going to give people strength to climb on horses and ride around in the jungle with no water. I mean, He could if He wanted to. But generally, you have to work up the physical ability and the tolerances for things like that.

But what about loving people? What about being bold? What about having courage to do something no one expects from you? What about stepping outside the box? Shoot, what about burning the box? Most of those things are more frightening than dying of dehydration in a jungle, as far as I’m concerned.

If you’re living in Christ’s strength, nothing is impossible. There’s nothing He can’t do through you. You just have to let go. Being tough and stubborn about it, isn’t worth it.