As a Canadian, living and working in the United States for 13 years, I became (through no effort or soliciting of my own) the resident expert in Canadian affairs for whatever American congregation I was preaching for at the time. For example:
When the weather grew cold and the north wind picked up, I was called upon to take the blame and provide apologies for the Canadian weather being dumped on the usually sunny and warm southwestern states.
When the Central Hockey League started up a franchise in Oklahoma City called the OKC Blazers. I not only became the only person in town who could explain what "icing" was, they even asked me to go to the arena and sing the Canadian National anthem for the opening game. Of course, the fact that I have no voice and don't remember all the lyrics in English and French didn't matter. I declined the offer but that didn't put an end to my hockey career. I was brought in to coach a junior roller hockey team (15-17) - my only credentials being that I was from Canada. At a meeting of parents, someone said, "Hey, this guy's from Canada, let's get him to coach!" The Canadian blood must have done something because we won the city and state championship that year.
There are other things about Canada that helped me not only in my life in the U.S. but also helped me in my work as a minister. A good example of this were the habits of the Canadian geese.
Where we used to live in Oklahoma City, there were two small ponds and a jogging track near my home. In the early fall, a flock of these Canadian geese would show up to spend the winter enjoying the mild climate and sharing the water with the local ducks. Now, these birds looked like they're just another bird landing to take advantage of the warm winter, however, I found out that scientists have studied these creatures and have discovered a certain "Goose Wisdom" that is biblical in nature and could be very helpful to people in teaching them how to better get along in and out of the church.
1. Geese Fly in a V Formation
Researchers have learned that each bird flapping its wings in V formation creates an uplift for the bird immediately behind it. By flying in this V formation the flock adds at least 71% greater flying range than if a bird flew on its own. The biblical parallel:
And all those who believed were together and had all things in common ... and the Lord added daily to their member, those who were being saved.
- Acts 2:44;47
People who share a common direction and sense of community can get to where they are going quicker and easier because they are traveling on the thrust and uplift of one another. In a family or business as well as in the church, when we work together we can get to where we're going faster.
2. Geese Stay With the Flock
When a goose falls out of formation, (decides it's going to go it alone.) it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone. So it quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lift created by the birds in front. The biblical parallel:
For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.
- I Corinthians 12:12
People with as much sense as a goose understand that there is strength in unity and greater security in remaining within the body. In the church, we understand that remaining in the body of Christ is a matter of salvation.
3. Geese Share The Work
When the lead goose gets tired, he rotates back into the wing and another goose flies the point position. The biblical parallel:
From whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.
- Ephesians 4:16
You can't reach your destination or goal unless everybody does their share of the work. In church work as well as family work you can't just think of yourself, your own little world - you have to take turns doing the hard work, you have to be willing to sacrifice so the entire flock (whether it be the Lord's flock or the flock of geese or the flock of your family) can arrive at its goal.
4. Geese Encourage Each Other
The geese flying at the back honk to encourage the ones up front to keep up their speed. The biblical parallel:
But encourage one another day after day...
- Hebrews 3:13a
Geese are smart enough to keep their leaders motivated so that the entire formation can move ahead. They know that if they try to undermine the leadership, they will cause the destruction of the entire flock. A lesson that shouldn't be lost on those who see "criticism" as their only contribution to their family or their church.
5. Geese Look Out For One Another
When a goose gets sick or wounded and falls out of formation, two geese fall out with him and follow him to protect him. They will stay with the fallen bird until he is able to fly again or dies. Then they will launch out to catch up with their assigned group. The biblical parallel:
9Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. 10For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. 11Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? 12And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.
- Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
We should care for those who are down (excuse the pun). The natural impulse is to discard, disown or disparage those who are having problems but the geese teach us that every member of the flock is important.
We can learn a lot from the Canada Goose. We learn:
- It's wise to work together
- It's wise to stick together
- It's wise to do our share of the work.
- It's wise to honk a word of encouragement.
- It's wise to watch out for each other.
I add one other bit of goose wisdom that pertains to all.
6. Geese Don't Procrastinate
They always leave in plenty of time to make it south for the winter. The biblical parallel:
And now why do you delay? Arise and be baptized and wash away your sins calling on His name.
- Acts 22:16
If geese delay, they freeze to death - if people delay in doing right or serving God, they miss their chance forever. When you see the "V" flying overhead remember the goose wisdom God has given us through them. God bless you.