The Quest

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You’ve been sent by the High King to the frontier near the mountains. Your quest is to liberate slaves who are being held captive by the evil Destroyer who occupies much of the land to the West of you. You also have a brother who has a castle across the mountain range to the South. You see him once a year at the harvest festival held down on the plain but that’s the only contact you have with him and his people.

You’ve managed to gather a few precious souls who have escaped from the Destroyer’s lands, and you’ve built a small castle of your own. You’re trying to raise an army to raid the enemy again and rescue more slaves.

The battle rages every day; arrows fly over your wall wounding many, and great stones from enemy catapults rock the walls. The ones you’ve rescued, now safe, turn to farming or caring for livestock inside the wall, or repairing the castle. Your captains watch guard, but no one else joins them. You attempt to rally your people with heartfelt speech but few answer the call. The swords lay rusting and suits of armor lie in disrepair. You feel overwhelmed and ponder what to do.

Then one day, a stranger comes to the castle, from far South beyond the River. He reveals that he was once like you, but he discovered the keys to raising an army; and he has rescued a great many captives. He reveals his plan:

First, you must shift your vision he says – you need to change your approach, from farming and caretaking to training and sending. You protest that you routinely gather everyone and give a speech about joining the army and the desperate state of the slaves that need to be rescued. But he laughs and says this can’t be learned by telling others—you need to show them. With a twinkle in his eye, he says that’s really the main key – it’s the principle of developing people.

Then he goes on to say that you need to train strong and skillful captains who are aligned with your plans and who understand their role… and teach them how to train others. He says that’s the principle of apprenticeship.

Next the man shares that you need to determine what’s most important to you, and base your actions on those things – and make sure you publically celebrate whenever anyone does the same things. He says that’s the principle of culture.

Lastly, he says you need to muster your people and find out each one’s talents and strengths. Then help each one find their place in the army accordingly, so that the best comes forth. That’s the principle of destiny, for both the individual and the whole army. And the key is to guide the young men and women to maturity, so they can form healthy families and raise children to be mature adults. And train each person how to train others. That’s the principle of multiplication.

You reel as you ponder the secrets he’s revealed. ‘How can I do this?’ you ask him. He says, ‘I’ll stay here and guide you.’ You accept his kind offer and you begin following his instruction. There’s a lot to learn but you soon see the new attitude shown on your captains faces, and then on the faces of the people.

The army grows and you launch the first attack in years, breaking through one of the enemy’s strongholds, and bringing back captives. As your people enjoy a victory feast, you send a messenger to your King with the report, knowing that He will be pleased indeed.

That could be your story. Or you could be like the man’s brother who had his own castle. The stranger had visited the brother but he scoffed at the man’s counsel and continued in his ways. And his people dwindled…and his castle lies in ruin to this day.

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