Actually, God didn’t make you or anyone else a silly goose. In truth, we can learn 5 important life lessons from geese, especially when we watch them fly overhead in formation.
The source of our Canadian geese facts comes from the research of Rev. Dr. Robert McNeish. In 1972, he observed several things that we as Christians could well apply to our lives. His observations resulted in a sermon he delivered at his church in Baltimore. Principles have been used by businesses to train their employees, and many ministers have applied these lessons to everyday life.
Perhaps, during this fall season, you might hear a flock of Canadian Geese loudly honking in the sky above. Noisy perhaps, but you will look at geese differently after reading life qualities identified by Dr. McNeish, But, more importantly, you will see how they can be applied to our daily lives as Christians. My comments follow each bold numbered lesson to help place these observations in Christian context.
As each goose flaps its wings it creates “uplift” for the birds that follow. By flying in a “V” formation, the whole flock adds 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew alone.
One must immediately note that as the geese cooperate with each other, they work as a precision team multiplying their efforts to fly longer distances without tiring.
Solomon illustrates in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
9Two are better than one, because there is a good reward for their labor together. 10 For if they fall, then one will help up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has no one to help him up. 11 Also if two lie down together, then they will keep warm; but how can one keep warm by himself? 12 And if someone might overpower another by himself, two together can withstand him. A threefold cord is not quickly broken.
God has called each of us to a different job within the body, as the apostle says Paul in I Corinthians 12:14, 18, 20
14 The body is not one part, but many.
18 But now God has established the parts, every one of them, in the body as it has pleased Him.
20 So there are many parts, yet one body.
We are truly one body, a flock; each of us has a role, even if it seems minimal. Advancement of our Christian walk is dependent on the efforts of all. Although we are personally responsible for our response to God’s love, the apostle, Paul, reminds us of an important part of the Christian walk in Galatians 6:2, 5.
2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
5 For each one shall bear his own burden.
Paul also reinforces this important virtue in Romans 12:3-6
3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sound judgment, according to the measure of faith God has distributed to every man. 4 For just as we have many parts in one body, and not all parts have the same function, 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and all are parts of one another. 6 We have diverse gifts according to the grace that is given to us:. . .
So, as you can see, if we heed this lesson from the geese and fly as a team, we will complete the journey with less chance of tiring before we reach our destination.
When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of flying alone. It quickly moves back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the birds immediately in front of it.
This coincides with Lesson #1 as it reinforces the idea of unity in the midst of teamwork. Going it alone, independent of our “Christian” flock, leads to falling behind. Remember, the flock can fly 71% farther as a group. What happens to the lone goose? – It is left behind.
3 be eager to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, even as you were called in one hope of your calling, 14 so we may no longer be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about with every wind of doctrine by the trickery of men, by craftiness with deceitful scheming.
15 But, speaking the truth in love, we may grow up in all things into Him, who is the head, Christ Himself, 16 from whom the whole body is joined together and connected by every joint and ligament, as every part effectively does its work and grows, building itself up in love.
Ephesians 4:3-4, 14-16
What do you think would happen to the “V” formation if unity was not present?
When the lead goose tires, it promptly rotates to the back and another takes its place to assume the lead position.
What an observation from Dr. Robert McNeish! It clearly exemplifies leadership, not only because another steps up to the challenge, but because all are prepared to do so. You can say they have all been trained for the body, the flock, to succeed on their journey. With no prideful attitude to appear stronger than it is, the lead goose when tired, willingly allows another of its team to assume leadership for the good of the flock. And, another knowingly takes responsibility.
Throughout the Bible, we see God providing fresh leadership over His people. When Moses’ work was completed, Joshua was trained and ready to take over, Elisha picked up the mantle that had fallen from Elijah’s shoulders. When it became clear that Jesus’ ministry had begun, John the Baptist said,
“He must increase, but I must decrease.”
The life of the body is preserved, no part better than another. Each worked together to ensure continuance. Even our own physical body composed of many working parts continually strives to make things right repairing itself as God intended, sometimes compensating for an injury, renewing cells, and doing much more we don’t even see.
Geese honk to encourage the ones up front to keep up their speed.
What a great sign of community support! I guess we can say that the flock “has the back” of the lead goose. I’d say we all need to have the help of others at critical moments in our lives. We all need the encouragers – our honking geese. And we must especially be there to encourage and show support to those who have leadership over us – employers, government leaders, church and ministry leaders, public servants, and more.
We don’t always see it, but too often those in leadership are pulled down by the disgruntled and worn out by the complainers. So, don’t be afraid to honk in support like our waterfowl examples.
Through our prayers and supportive words, we give strength to those at the front. Holding up their arms is greatly appreciated and benefits everyone. A clear example can be seen in Exodus 17:8-13.
8 Then Amalek came and fought with Israel in Rephidim. 9 So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose men for us and go out, fight against Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in my hand.” 10 So Joshua did as Moses had said to him and fought against Amalek. And Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.
11 Now when Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, but when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. 12 But Moses’ hands became heavy. So they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat on it. And Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. And his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. 13 So Joshua laid low Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.
We all want to see victory in our lives and it is within our power to help others achieve it. If someone is feeling down or discouraged, a card, letter, email, phone call, or a personal visit can work wonders.
The apostle Paul in Romans 12:15 states it this way:
“Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.”
When a goose gets sick, or wounded, and drops to the ground, one or two geese leave the formation and follow it down to protect it. They stay with it until it dies or is able to fly again. Then, they join another formation or catch up with the one they left.
This clearly is an example of family caring, and as Christians, our elder brother, Jesus, sets the example. Hebrews 2: 10-11 says,
10 For it was fitting for Him, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the Author of their salvation perfect through suffering. 11 For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all of One. For this reason He is not ashamed to call them brothers . . . .
James 5:19-20 says,
19 Brothers, if any one of you strays from the truth and someone corrects him, 20 let him know that he who converts the sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
I Peter 4:8 tells us,
8 Above all things, have unfailing love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.
Do you have any sins to cover? Help others.
So, if anyone ever calls you a silly goose, remember these lessons from geese while flying in perfect formation. If we as Christians, live and work as a team, unite behind godly leadership, encourage one another, and compassionately assist those around us in times of personal need, we too will be assured of reaching our destination – the Kingdom of God – and may His Kingdom come!
It can be clearly stated that when believers in Christ actively uplift one another they can go farther in godliness than if they attempt their journey alone. Although soaring with eagles sonds great, flying with principles learned from geese beings even greater success. Happy flying!
Did you find this article on the 5 lessons from geese? Let us know!
Do you enjoy life lessons based on scripture? Check out this article “The Dangers of Procrastination Proverbs 24 Bible Study”
Russ is Co-founder and Senior Pastor at Christiangram Ministries, Inc., and celebrates thirty-one years of ordination November, 2020. His music visitation ministry, founded in 1988 by him and his wife, Rose (now with the Lord), has touched multitudes through one-on-one visitation, numerous public events, inspirational songs, preaching, prayer, and personal outreach. He also served as Assistant Pastor for Walk in Love for Jesus Church, North Bellmore, NY for nearly seven years.