November 2, 2018
A fundamental part of the Joshua Wilderness Institute is character building. This means, we as Joshua brothers and sisters are held to a certain standard.
As a part of the consequences for the rules not being followed, additional rules are added until we meet the standard. For talking over our speakers, we now have an assigned seating chart. For not respecting the quite hours at night, we now have curfew set to earlier in the night. And for not showing up on time to the events, we now are required to come ten minutes early to each event and to stand or sit there quietly.
One of the problems we have seen in American culture today is an extreme lack of respect for authority and the rules imposed by authority. Often times, we do not respect people for the position they hold in our lives but how well we feel they respect and do what we feel is right in their position. In other words, “I don’t care who you are, if you respect me, I respect you.” The problem here lies in the idea that we, as a generation, and as young adults, always think we are right and that our way of handling things is the only right way. The reality is, often times we are wrong.
Today we learned the hard way what it looks like to not honor and respect those around us. On Thursday mornings, we are expected to have each and every one of our rooms cleaned and ready for room checks. Because most people wait until the last minute to clean so that their rooms won’t become dirty again before it is time for the room checks, we as a class, usually take up until the last minute to clean our rooms. With the new rules in place about having to arrive ten minutes early, people are even more crammed for time cleaning. As a result, many of us arrived late to our event today because we did not keep track of time properly. Nothing was said until after the speaker had finished. Directly following, Bob Plouffe, the director of JWI, walked to the front of room. “Joshua, you have been here for about two months now, and you still aren’t getting it.” After a discussion about how the staff will not stand by while we do not grow, Bob sent the entire class on a hill-walk, which is a 30-minute walk, in silence, down and up the rather steep hill leading from Hume Lake to JWI. The walk is meant to be a quiet time to reflect on why we are doing a hill-walk in the first place. When all 45 of us returned to the building, Bob asked a simple question, “Did anyone talk?”. After a brief pause, around half of our class’ hands went up in the air. Then Bob said, “Thank you for the honesty, now the entire class, go do it right this time.” Again, another 30-minute walk to reflect on our actions.
Afterwards a lot of us were livid with the staff. Some felt anger and resentment because they felt unloved by the staff, others were annoyed they had to walk because of others not following the rules, and some were happy to get some exercise in and look at nature. We were all over the board.
The thing about all of this is, the consequences aren’t there just as a form of punishment. They are put there so that way we are in an environment where every once and a while our flesh can get poked and challenged. The consequences cause us to look at ourselves and see how we react when the world does not give us what we want, and in so doing, cause us to grow.
James says “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” (James 1:2-3 ESV)
Our prayer for this year’s class is that when the staff does things that we do not agree with or are mad at, that we would recognize that they love us and are doing their best to help us grow in character and holiness. That we would submit to their authority and seek in every way to look at our own hard hearts and work together to soften them.
Later that night we had a lot of fun at the Spy themed dinner the staff put on for us! Here’s some pics!
Kyle, Kaylee, Leyla, Hank