Anybody that’s ever jumped out of an airplane knows that before you take to the sky, you have to spend hours in the classroom learning how to jump. Some guys, however, are impatient to jump and don’t want to take the necessary steps before taking the plunge. The result is usually failure. In the long run, those who don’t heed biblical instruction, or the patience of wisdom are doomed to fail. In the jungles of Vietnam during the conflict with the Viet Cong, the American 5 man special-forces teams were running thin for obvious reasons. When they began recruiting out of the infantry, they thinned out the ranks by running jungle jump drills. These drills involved rappelling out of helicopters face first. Sound easy? It’s not. They were required to jump face down and free-fall for at least 50 feet before applying the hand break on the rope. Problem was, some guys seized up as soon as they jumped and immediately applied the break out of sheer panic. As their line went taut, they swung back under the chopper, slamming into the hard metal underbelly, either knocking them senseless, or causing them serious injury. Either way, it proved them to be unfit or unready for the special forces, resulting in their immediate dismissal back into regular infantry.
It wasn’t lack of drills that made them unsuitable, it was something inside of them. In ministry, it’s not your skills that’ll make the grade. It’s your character. The military specializes in unmaking men, and then reinventing them from the inside out. They strip a man of his old identity, shave his head, give him a number, and slowly let him regain his identity, but only this time, he’s somebody…something…completely different. They’ve retrained more than a man, they’ve retrained his character. Who he is. His inner man.
I’ve seen scores of young men pumped with bravado, and an overestimation of their own abilities as planters, yet an underestimation of the dangers of planting. They don’t last. I’ve had many conversations with young arrogant men in Jump School who have to be sent back to the ministry basic training to learn humility, servanthood, hard work, and dependence on the Holy Spirit. A pretty face and the ability to talk carried them this far, but what they’ve lacked is character. It reminds me of a scene in Band of Brothers where an old leatherneck chews out a rookie who is irritated that nobody can remember his name after he’s joined the new platoon:
“Do you know why no one remembers your name? It’s ’cause no one wants to remember your name! There are too many Smiths, DiMatos, and O’Keefes and O’Briens who show up here, replacing Toccoa men that you dumb replacements got killed in the first place! And they’re all like you. They’re all piss and vinegar. ‘Where are the Krauts at? Let me at ’em! When do I get to jump into Berlin?’ Two days later, there they are with their blood and guts hanging out. Screaming for a medic, begging for their mothers! You dumb kids don’t even know you’re dead yet.”
Most planters obsess about location. They examine demographic reports, and strategize how they’ll target a drop zone. They can’t wait to take on hell’s krauts. If they were in real estate, location would be all that matters, but this is ministry, where location is secondary to character. “Men are always looking for methods, but God is looking for a man”_. Not just any man either. God doesn’t need a warm body. He needs a man worth sending. He needs a man that can say “Imitate me just as I imitate Christ”, so that others see Christ’s mission through the missionary. The mission and the missionary are linked. To quote Saving Private Ryan “This time the mission is a man”.
When New Breed planter, and former Royal Marine James Richards joined our Jump School training in the UK, he let slip that he’d been a commando for four years. James told us that the parallels to the Special Forces were right on target. We don’t apologize for using military imagery, because Paul did the same. He spoke about the weapons of our warfare, pleasing your commanding officer, enduring hardship like a good soldier, demolishing enemy strongholds, fighting the fight of faith, making a stand against the enemy, etc. This ain’t no brisk walk through the park, and that obstacle course you’re about to embark on. It ain’t no playground.
Therefore, when the New Testament lists off the requirements for leadership it focuses on character. Gifting is secondary. Therefore we’re going to make sure you’re suited up before you jump, go through the safety checks with you, make sure you’ve packed your parachute correctly, you’ve got the right ground support underneath you, and you can actually jump.
Buy Peyton’s newest book “Reaching The Unreached: Becoming Raiders of the Lost Art” over on Amazon.com. You can also download a free chapter and watch a cool trailer for the book HERE or click the image below.