Rites of Passage

Before and After: How a Rite of Passage Imparts a Permanent Change

In the movie, The Bourne SupremacyJason Bourne’s boss, Conklin, encourages him bourne-supremacybefore Bourne goes into a building to carry out his first assignment – kill a Russian politician.  He has been trained and brainwashed to be an assassin for the CIA, and now is his first test.  Conklin urges him on with the words, “see you on the other side.”

The fact that there is “another side” means by implication that there is a barrier of some sort that must be crossed, or gone through.  In Bourne’s case, it was the physical barrier of shooting another person, as well as the emotional barrier of committing the act.  Conklin knew that once Jason had crossed that emotional barrier, he would be a different person because of it… he could do it again and again.

Although this may be a grisly way to make the point, this scenario perfectly illustrates a vital part of everyone’s life.  The Rite of Passage.  But just because it’s called a passage does not mean everyone goes through it.  Only those who take up the challenge and summon the courage actually come out “on the other side.”

rockwell-footballIt starts out in our youth.  It could be a schoolyard wrestling match, or joining the military.  Once you’ve done it, you know you can do more.  It could be a one time mission or years of study in a college program, but then one day, POW!  A diploma and job offers.

In my article, “The Heart of a Pioneer” I try to articulate the inner desires and motives that drive someone to take the plunge, so to speak.  There are compounded benefits, along with multiplied risks.  But whether you Wagons 3succeed or fail, there is one benefit no one can ever take away – you did it!  You went through the gauntlet and you survived, and that very experience has left an indelible mark.  It has changed you, and you are no longer the same.  As a matter of fact, now that you

know you can do it, you may go for it again, and again, and again until you get it right.

There’s nothing wrong with refusing the Rite of Passage while others go on.  Nothing bad will happen to you, and it may happen to them.  But empty-ball-and-chainyou will experience what I call “The Agony of Not Trying.”  You will simply stay the same, but you will never taste the delicious honor of victory.  To a pioneer, even defeat contains a trace of victory.  Why?  Because he did it – he went for it – he came out “on the other side” – and he has left sameness behind.

Pioneers: Leaving It All Behind

The Mark of a Pioneer:  Forsaking the known for the unknown

The pioneer is willing to leave behind all known quantities of his present reality because he

From Woodstock To Eternity

From Woodstock To Eternity

sees them as limitations.  And, those limitations are like chains to him.  He might as well be in leg irons in a dungeon with one little window where he can watch the world outside change and grow while he is forced to tolerate an eternal hell of sameness.

From Woodstock to Eternity excerpt from the chapter “How the West Was Won”

The mark of a Pioneer is what separates successful people from unsuccessful people.  Many work in mundane situations their whole life and never attempt to change it.  Like factory workers who get so used to their job that they can’t imagine doing anything else.  A Pioneer would feel bound and limited in an environment like this, and would make every attempt to escape.

Bakery Plant Line Workers

Bakery Plant Line Workers

Sometimes, we are forced by circumstances to leave our present reality.  Recently, a major plant in our town closed, and many of the workers took the opportunity to go back to Junior College to learn a skill.  They were forced to leave their “known reality” of the guaranteed work and go in a direction they had never dreamed of.  After they became nurses and technicians, they looked back on their time in the plant as a distant memory of a routine existence.  They had changed their lives.

Many get caught up in this mentality, and don’t have the foresight or the courage to step out “into the unknown”, but a Pioneer will take the challenge with glee.  My son worked

Welding Shop

Welding Shop

odd jobs in high school and got a welding certificate at the local college.  For him, that was all he could see, and thought the best he could do was open a welding shop.  A friend of the family convinced him that the only way to get ahead in the world was to get a Bachelor’s Degree.

He was hesitant at first, because his known reality was only welding.  It was a limitation to him, but he took the challenge and left it behind.  He launched into a Construction Engineering program.  Now, doors are opening up to him everywhere, and he will enter a life far beyond a sheet metal welding shop.

Treasure in Heaven

Treasure in Heaven

The same is true of a journey into Eternity.  When we are confronted with the Gospel message and the Christian Life, it requires a turning from our know existence.  Just like Jesus said, “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”   Matthew 8:22

Following Christ is a leap into the unknown, a departure from the way we have been living in the past to a new life according to heavenly ways.  We are supposed to become a “new creation in Christ”  2 Corinthians 5:17.  Many are eager to do this, and some are not so sure.

For those who make the transition from the old life to the new life – who make it “to the other side”, I have a title

ETERNAL PIONEERS

The Agony of Not Trying

The Agony of Not Trying: Doomed to Sameness

To some, not knowing what is out there is no big deal.  They are not curious enough, they have no goal to pursue, and they don’t have the drive to pursue it.  They are content with what they have and have resigned themselves to staying that way to the end.

They may be content, but to others, this is an intolerable state of affairs.  Staying the way you are is tantamount to being doomed to sameness.  They may be content for a while, but sooner or later, they get a spark, a crazy idea.  If that idea is successful, they will enter a new realm, and the rest of their life will be vastly different from what they know now.

Danger on the trail

Danger on the trail

 

The possibilities eat away at them, the fantasies of all they could be consume them.  Then someone or something says, “Maybe you shouldn’t do that.  You know this could happen or that could happen.”  See: The 7 Qualities of a Pioneer

But it’s too late.  The seed has sprouted, and it is growing.  “Not try, you say?  Curb your

tongue!  Away with such a fellow!  To the executioners!”  By the time you’ve got to this point, the pain of not knowing what would have happened is far worse than the pain of any bad consequences for trying.  At least that’s what you think.

The following is a book excerpt about this part of the makeup of a True Pioneer in From Woodstock To Eternity,

“It isn’t enough just to have a dream and work hard to fulfill it.  The pioneer is willing to leave behind all the known quantities of his present reality because he sees them as limitations.  And, those limitations are like chains to him.  He might as well be in leg irons in a dungeon with one little window where he can watch the world outside change and grow while he is forced to tolerate an eternal hell of sameness. When he sees an opportunity that will

Manifest Destiny

Manifest Destiny

enable him to break free of those limitations and latch onto an enterprise with untold possibilities, he has to take it.  He is compelled.  He will not be able to live with himself if he does not at least give it his best shot.  It doesn’t matter that some people will die, others will suffer shipwreck, still more will become discouraged and turn back.  He never believes it will happen to him.It isn’t enough just to have a dream and work hard to fulfill it.  The pioneer is willing to leave behind all the known quantities of his present reality because he sees them as limitations.  And, those limitations are like chains to him.  He might as well be in leg irons in a dungeon with one little window where he can watch the world outside change and grow while he is forced to tolerate an eternal hell of sameness. When he sees an opportunity that will enable him to break free of those limitations and latch onto an enterprise with untold possibilities, he has to take it.  He is compelled.  He will not be able to live with himself if he does not at least give it his best shot.  It doesn’t matter that some people will die, others will suffer shipwreck, still more will become discouraged and turn back.  He never believes it will happen to him.”

Caution Triumph Over Glory?

When is it prudent to let caution triumph over glory?  When is it OK to go for glory in spite of the cautions?

Proverbs 27:12 says, “A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself; The simple pass on and are punished.”  and

Proverbs 14:15   “The simple believes every word, But the prudent considers well his steps.”

So do we always have to hide ourselves to be prudent?  If we pass on and do it anyway,

Danger on the trail

Danger on the trail

are we always considered simple?  Like everything else, it depends on the situation, and of course, hearing from God.  In my post, 7 Qualities of a Pioneer, I talk about the way a pioneer mindset approaches this issue.

In this excerpt from the book From Woodstock To Eternity, Dustin Morgan approaches the issue from the mindset of a hippie pot dealer.

Many conflicting emotions hit Morgan at once.  The thrill of being involved in a new level of pot dealing is quickly clouded by a dose of reality that the stakes are higher now.  The sweet success of dealing has always had that twinge of “what happens if I get caught?”  And, the bigger the volume, the bigger the twinge.

Do I really want to get in this deep?  He ponders it for a second.  The conclusion is inevitable.  He’ll always wonder what would have happened if he doesn’t.  The next level is always a blind leap.  You’ll never know until you try.  The question is, do you have the guts to try, or is caution going to triumph over glory?

“You bet, brother.  Let’s do it.”

Some steps for a prudent man to consider about caution:

  1. Known cautions should always be weighed against the potential rewards.  If the roads are glazed over with freezing rain and snow, you don’t really need to go to the store for the soda pop and chips.  If the neighborhood is known as a high crime area, don’t let your single daughter get an apartment there because it is cheap.
  2. Cautions may or may not happen like they are advertised.  Many pioneers made it out West in spite of the Indians, rattlesnakes and weather.  Most people who fly make it safely, while those who refuse to fly are sure they will crash.
  3. Too much emphasis on caution can result in fear ruling your life.  A life ruled by fear never reaches its full potential.
  4. Too much emphasis on glory can result in bad things happening.    A life of constantly ignoring cautions can lead to destruction.  Morgan’s insistence upon pursuing the drug dealing lifestyle landed him in jail, and almost took away his freedom for a very long time.

    jailhouse blues

    jailhouse blues

  5. Sometimes the situation requires us to disregard all caution, because the cause is so desperate.  A normally overly cautious mother will lay down her life for her child.  A soldier in combat must face enemy fire in order to defeat him.
  6. Known cautions may be indicators of unknown consequences.  Morgan got away with many of his drug runs, and thought he had beat the caution of getting caught.  However, the caution not to do it was an indicator that there were other, unseen dangers:  Deteriorating character, increased drug use do due increased money, a distorted view of the world based on his temporary prosperity.  This leads to the next point:
  7. Sometimes we can’t identify what it is that we are cautious about.  This is called a “check” in the spirit.  You know you shouldn’t do it, you just don’t know why.
  8. We should always check with the Lord and pray for direction, no matter what the decision is.

7 Qualities of a Pioneer

California clipper

California Dreamin’

From Woodstock to Eternity Free Look Inside!

The Pioneer Spirit is so essential to having a vibrant, productive and successful life.  At least it is essential to having an exciting life.  I guess you can be productive and successful without being particularly daring, but all of us share at least some of these qualities, as they are part of the human makeup.  For those who have all these qualities and more, I say, keep on truckin’.  If you don’t, let these motivate you to get up and do what you have wanted to do all along.  Just don’t use them in the wrong way.

  1. A Pioneer dares to dream:  It may sound cheesy, but even the Bible says, “without a vision the people perish”  Proverbs 29:18.  Motivational speakers, network marketers, visionaries, preachers, everyone  says you need a dream to pursue.  Life has dealt some people so many disappointing blows that they feel they cannot dream again, but don’t let the past win out over your future.  Old things have past away, behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17
  2. Pioneers are willing to leave their old life behind:  This is a deal killer for many.  They don’t want to leave family, or friends, or what they are familiar with to take the next step.  But think of Abraham – he left everything in his old land of Ur to follow God’s promise.  For the Christian, it’s more than a new job, or the chance for a promotion – it’s believing you have heard the will of God and you are willing to follow it, no matter the cost.
  3. A Pioneer is not content to remain the same:  Sameness is a disease, a torture to the pioneer spirit.  While he understands the logic of building a foundation and a reputation, once he has done that at one level, he must break out and pursue another level.  The adventure is not necessarily at the end of the rainbow, it is in the pursuit of the rainbow.  The experience of moving onward and upward is  the adventure.
  4. A Pioneer is compelled to make the effort:  Since the pioneer spirit has dreams and a lust for adventure, he always wonders what is out there that he hasn’t discovered yet.    If a particular challenge presents itself, he envisions what “success” would look like and realizes that he may not even be able to fathom where life could take him.  Then, the possibilities become the prize, and he cannot go through life not knowing what could have happened if he didn’t at least try.  He is compelled to try, or he will be miserable the rest of his life wondering what would have happened.
  5. A Pioneer sees present limitations as hindrances to future opportunities:  What some people may consider to be normal and reasonable to take into account, a pioneer sees as an excuse to not take the chance.  Rather than accepting limitations as constructive or rational, he looks at them as hurdles that are meant to be jumped.  The phrase, “Son, we all have to know our limitations” is not in his vocabulary.
  6. A Pioneer knows the risk:  Far from being naive, or simple minded in his pursuits, the pioneer know full well that his attempts may fail.
    rattlesnakes

    Danger on the trail

    To a cautious person, that is enough to make them content to stay where they are.  To a pioneer, it is the price of admission to a glorious undertaking.  Torpedoes? What torpedoes?

  7. Pioneers refuse to let caution triumph over glory:  This may sound foolish to some who like to have all the contingencies figured out before they do anything.  It’s like the difference between Patton and Montgomery.  The British Field Marshall Montgomery was known as overly cautious.  He would not mount an attack until he had all of everything he needed.  Supplies, troops, Plan A, Plan B, Plan C.  American General Patton, on the other hand, just charged ahead, annihilating the enemy with lightning speed.  He got so far ahead of his supply trucks that his tanks ran out of gas!  On a more reasonable note, preparation is good, but too much fear of the unknown, or consequences if things go wrong can stifle any progress or innovation.

Copyright © 2015 John D. Cooper

The Heart of a Pioneer

Pioneers on the trail make camp

Pioneers on the trail make camp

From Woodstock to Eternity Book Excerpt:  Free Look Inside!

“This is the heart of a true pioneer.  It isn’t enough just to have a dream and work hard to fulfill it.  The pioneer is willing to leave behind all the known quantities of his present reality because he sees them as limitations.  And, those limitations are like chains to him.  He might as well be in leg irons in a dungeon with one little window where he can watch the world outside change and grow while he is forced to tolerate in an eternal hell of sameness. When he sees an opportunity that will enable him to break free of those limitations and latch onto an enterprise with untold possibilities, he has to take it.  He is compelled.  He will not be able to live with himself if he does not at least give it his best shot.  It doesn’t matter that some people will die, others will suffer shipwreck, still more will become discouraged and turn back.  He never believes it will happen to him.”

Next:  7 Qualities of a Pioneer

Copyright © 2015 John D. Cooper