Hi everyone. Rob here. Last week I attended the local version of the Willow Creek Leadership Summit and I was particularly struck by a talk by Jim Collins (Good to Great; Built to Last; Great by Choice). He contrasted the two Antarctic expeditions, 1910-1912, of Robert Falcon Scott and Roald Amundsen. The facts of history show that Amundsen became the first man to reach the South Pole on 14 December 1911 and his whole team made it back safely to tell the tale. Scott and his team were a month behind and the final team of 5 perished on the return journey as horrific blizzards struck.
Much has been written about Scott’s expedition – just see his Wikipedia page! It is a tale of bravery, heroism and dramatic failure. Amundsen’s story reads like an accountant’s diary in comparison. He made his plans, they were executed to perfection and they went home, job done. Wikipedia puts it like this:
“Amundsen’s expedition benefited from careful preparation, good equipment, appropriate clothing, a simple primary task (Amundsen did no surveying on his route south and is known to have taken only two photographs), an understanding of dogs and their handling, and the effective use of skis. In contrast to the misfortunes of Scott’s team, Amundsen’s trek proved rather smooth and uneventful.
In Amundsen’s own words:
I may say that this is the greatest factor—the way in which the expedition is equipped—the way in which every difficulty is foreseen, and precautions taken for meeting or avoiding it. Victory awaits him who has everything in order — luck, people call it. Defeat is certain for him who has neglected to take the necessary precautions in time; this is called bad luck.
— from The South Pole, by Roald Amundsen”
As I listened to this story I was reminded afresh that the life of the heart is lived out from a transformed mind. As Romans 12:2 puts it, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (NLT)
Amundsen had a heart for adventure. He dedicated his life to the exploration of the extreme environments of the Arctic and Antarctic. But he also engaged his mind. He learned from the native peoples of the Arctic (Eskimoes, in other words). He learnt what was effective and what was not. He kept things simple and he stuck to his plans, undeterred by the weather. His team marched the same distance everyday despite the conditions. Scott, by contrast, had a knack for keeping things complicated. He wanted to reach the pole and do scientific work. He had motor sleds, ponies, people and dogs as transport. He had too much stuff. He didn’t move in extreme weather, which put them behind meaning there was more chance of worse weather coming. He had the same heart as Amundsen but not the same mind. Clarity won out over confusion.
That’s a simplistic summary but it tells us that our work doesn’t stop when we realise that our hearts belong to God and are made new in him. If we want to honour the Father, follow the Son and live by the Spirit, we need to give God our minds as well. Jesus is our example. He was cunning, brilliant and clever. He outwitted his enemies. He never lost an argument, but he was always love in action and always honoured the Father. God wants us to have clarity and purpose as we live for him. He wants us to think well so that the enemy can’t outwit us. He wants us to know his will, do his will and reflect his heart to the world through what we say, do and think. Therefore, think well. Pray for a Godly mind, the mind of Christ.