By Joel Bates
We are taking some time over the next several months to share some of the stories, situations, and meaning behind each of our Core Values and how these values have come to shape the ministry of Discovery Ministries. Constructed with Our Staff is our final Core Value. We continue to find these to be relevant to our current way of life in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
It’s what I don’t see that really inspires me. I was instructing a rock climb the other day and had set up our more challenging climbing route. Try as they might, none of teens could make the crux move to get to the top. After exhausting all their energy on failed attempts, they turned to me and said, “Let’s see you do it.” I have scaled this familiar climb many times, so with graceful effort I hauled myself up the face, past the crux, and to the top. There were “O-o-oh’s” and “A-a-ah’s,” and one fellow remarked, “He’s got my respect!” That comment hung in my mind. What a tempting morsel to feed my ego, but how empty that morsel would become, leaving me hungry for more!
The truth is respect so easily gained can become easily lost. What those students saw really impressed them because I could do something they could not. No matter that it was my umpteenth time…no thought that I’ve had ample training…with these advantages over the campers, it wasn’t a fair comparison. However, in that moment my practiced ability was a monument of success to them. I’ve noticed how common it is in the work we do at DM for people to admire and be impressed with an outward appearance projected through our skill as instructors or our training in outdoor pursuits, but when I consider the building blocks of success at DM, I’m more impressed by the quiet, behind-the-scenes work I notice the staff doing.
Our last core value is Constructed with our Staff. 1 Peter 2:5 says, “You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” We look for this is a quality in our staff, and it is an attitude we embrace. A few years ago, I was interviewing a girl for summer internship and she said, “I don’t know much about the outdoors, but I love Jesus.” Practical skills are easily taught to the mind, but a Christ-like character in the heart is born through the long journey with Jesus. At DM, we value one’s relationship with Christ so much because at the end of the day, we want to communicate life in Christ to our participants more than a life of chasing the wind of self-glorifying adventures.
I’ve been so personally blessed by working at a place constructed with godly staff. Just the other day, Robert stayed later than everybody else to settle accounts for the day and write our paychecks in readiness for the morrow. Last week, I saw Logan judiciously navigating ankle-deep sewage as he worked tirelessly and without complaint to unclog a drain for one of our RV campers. Leah often schedules others for more of the exciting field work as she stays in the office to administrate the next program. She has a habit of asking others what assignments they would appreciate. Nearly every day, Ronnie can be found cleaning, mowing, or weed trimming so the camp will look good for the next guests. We have been blessed over the years with many wonderful interns whose ready service springs from a vibrant relationship with Jesus. And I cannot forget Julie, whose long hours cooking good food in the kitchen provide a celebratory feel to day’s end after the adventures are through. She always greets us with a smile.
I’ve been wowed by many great athletes and outdoor professionals, but the staff at DM convicts me by their Christ-like conduct, teaches me by their attitudes, and ensures this ministry is built on something that will last longer than a few fleeting moments of passing fame. It’s what you don’t see that really matters most—living stones of God quietly, faithfully building His Kingdom.
Come along side us as we journey in and out of the wilderness, discovering our Creator in creation.