Risk Averse


This is an excerpt from a sermon on courage by Mark Buchanan:


A few years ago at a Willow Creek Summit, Jack Groppel, who works with leaders to hone optimum performance, showed two video clips. The first video was of a group of NFL linebackers. When they showed up for some training at Groppel's center in the swamplands of Florida, Groppel had an assignment for them: all the linebackers were to run to the perimeter fence of the center, either fetch a ribbon from a post or tie a ribbon to a post (I can't recall which), and then run back to base camp. Groppel then added one final, important detail: a wild boar had been spotted in the forest that morning. He explained how dangerous wild boars can be and how they all needed to be on high alert.


Off they went. Now, in preparation for the activity, a cameraman had been planted along the forest trail, hiding behind the bushes. When you watch the video of what took place that day, these massive linemen come around the bend looking panicky. At that point the cameraman begins to snort and rustle the bushes. The football players each turn tail and run, squealing like schoolgirls.


Then Groppel showed us another video clip. It was of the same training scenario, only this time it's with CIA operatives. At the point where those operatives come around the bend and the alleged wild boar starts snorting and rustling, each operative gets into combat position and holds his ground.


Now you tell me—whose organization was most exalted by the courage of its members?


There’s another thing worth noting here.  My guess is that all the men, whether NFL or CIA, felt afraid when they heard the noise in the bushes.  That is to say I would bet their bodies involuntarily reacted in similar ways.  Everyone’s heart rate and breathing probably picked up.  The centers of their brains responsible for fear all became active.


The difference is not who was afraid and who wasn’t.  The difference was what action they took in light of the fear they felt.  One group prepared for flight, the other for fight.  This Sunday we’re going to look at how fear can interfere with our ability to listen for God.  I’m convinced that the trick is not to banish fear (at least not at first).  Instead, I think the trick is to know how to respond to our fears.  Then again, if you haven’t been trained in hand-to-tusk combat, who’s to say the NFL players weren’t the smart ones.