Integrity, week 2

An important part of Integrity is that we keep our promises to ourselves and to others.  We are honest and authentic in what we do — for example, if we promise to be a leader, we behave like a real leader.  To understand this better, we’ll talk about how George Marshall crossed the Crocodile River.

George Marshall’s first job as a new 2nd Lieutenant was on the island of Mindoro in the Philippines.  These are a large group of islands in the western pacific, near Japan and China.  He had never been so far from home before.

When George got to Mindoro, he thought the soldiers of his company were the wildest, roughest bunch he had ever seen.  George had never led real soldiers in the field before, and they knew it.  the soldiers thought that George was as green as grass — they didn’t have much confidence in him as a leader.

George and his soldiers were on Mindoro to protect the local villages from bandits who lurked in the jungle.  they raided the villages, stealing whatever they could.  It was George’s job to lead his soldiers on patrols through the jungle to keep the bandits away.

This was dangerous work.  The bandits were armed and dangerous — they might shoot at the soldiers.  Hostile tribes lived deep in the jungle — if the soldiers got too close to their homes, they would shoot poisoned arrows at them.  Finally, the rivers and streams in the jungle were infested with crocodiles — who saw the soldiers as something good to eat.  The soldiers were always anxious, on the lookout for trouble.

On one patrol, George led his soldiers across a small river.  As they waded through the water, there was a sudden splash near them, and someone shouted “Crocodiles!”  The soldiers all panicked and stampeded for the river bank, knocking George down and trampling him into the mud.

George was soaking wet and covered in mud when he climbed out of the river.  He didn’t look like much of a leader.  He didn’t yell at the soldiers or get angry with them — he knew they were afraid.  But George also knew that if he was going to be an authentic leader, he had to promptly reassert his control.

George quietly ordered his soldiers to fall in behind him, and marched them right back across the Crocodile river.  Then he turned them back around, and had them march back again — crossing the river properly both times.  Then George had them come to attention, and carefully inspected their rifles.  He was reminding them of how authentic soldiers behaved.  Then he led them back to their camp.  George had made it clear that he was in charge.

Discussion Questions:

  1.  Patrolling in the jungle meant facing armed and dangerous bandits, hostile tribes with poisoned arrows, and hungry crocodiles.  Do you think George understood why his soldiers panicked and ran over him?
  2.   Are soldiers supposed to panic and run away from danger?  What do you think they should have done instead to be honest and authentic as soldiers?
  3.   Was George supposed to lose control of his soldiers when they were in danger?  How did he show his soldiers — and himself — that he was honest and authentic as a leader?

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