Have you ever watched wild geese flying overhead, heading off for their long journey South, to warmer climes? It’s a beautiful sight, they’re very graceful birds; but the most striking and fascinating thing about this phenomenon is the V-shaped formation that the geese fly in. I looked it up and discovered some interesting things. As the modern church, we could learn a lot from geese.
Here are four things:
‘All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper) and to prayer.’
Before flying away for the Winter, the geese start to gather together. Why? Because they have a common goal, written into their very DNA by their creator, and they somehow know that they need to make this long and sometimes arduous journey together. They don’t have to even think about doing it any other way. You would never see a goose trying to make that journey alone.
The ‘V Formation’
Geese remain in a V formation until they get to their destination; you will never see a flock of geese flying in a haphazard manner, they stay together and fly ‘in fellowship’.
Because of the formation, as each bird flaps its wings, this creates an ‘uplift’ of wind for the bird immediately behind it. This means that if a goose gets very tired and begins to fall out of formation, it immediately feels the benefit of the uplift. It quickly regains its orientation and gets back into formation.
How perfectly God designed that V formation for these magnificent birds, and how much we could learn from this!
“Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” Philippians 2:4
Sharing the Workload
Geese teach us the importance of teamwork. If the goose at the front of the ‘V’ was expected to lead the flock the entire way, covering thousands of miles, that lead goose would simply die of exhaustion. The lead goose knows instinctively when to take a break. He or she drops back in the formation, swapping places with the one behind, who then leads for a while and then swaps with the next goose. And so they continue throughout the journey, constantly rotating in the formation, sharing the workload, every goose playing their part.
They press on, mild after mile, focussed on one thing; their common purpose and goal, yet even in that, they instinctively pay careful attention to the other geese in the flock. There are no ‘loners.’
Helping One Another
“Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.”
“We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.”
When a goose falls out of the V formation because of injury or sickness, another goose, sometimes two, come alongside him and fly with him, staying with him until he is able to fly on his own again, before they all rejoin the formation. If they have been left behind by their original formation, they fly on together until they find another formation to join, as all V formations of geese are generally headed in the same direction, with the same common purpose, and these accept newcomers.
Did you know that the geese at the rear of the formation are the ones who do the honking? There’s a reason for this. It is thought that with their honks, these rear geese are letting the geese in front of them, especially the one who is leading the formation, know that the rest of the team is still right behind them.“Everything’s ok back here, keep going.”
And another little point to remember is that the honking, encouraging goose at the very rear of the V formation has often rotated from the front. No room for pride in the V formation. There’s no ‘pecking order’ with geese flying together, it’s all about working together.
The church needs ‘honkers’. Most churches have one or two honkers, people who constantly encourage everyone around them, and what a precious gift these people are, however we are all called to be encouragers.
“let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”Hebrews 10:24-25
In the New Testament, Barnabas was well known for being an encourager. See Acts 4:36
“Therefore encourage one another, and build one another up, just as you also are doing”1 Thessalonians 5:11
“But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” ….”(Hebrews 3:13a)
In conclusion, we can learn so much from geese. Whether rotating, uplifting flying alongside or ‘honking’, the flock flies together, in formation.
*(Originally posted on Mustard Seed Blog in October 2017)*