By Gary Miller
I’m reminded of an old country song that goes like this. “It’s too hot to fish, too hot for golf, and too cold at home” (imagine a deep twang). Well, while the home fires may still be burning, it’s definitely too hot to fish and too hot for golf. So, I just sits and thinks and plans. And in the late afternoon or early morning I check trail cameras and move tree stands because harvesting a deer doesn’t happen in the late fall or winter but more often than not, it happens in the summer. It happens without a bow or gun but with a map, a camera, and strategic planning.
Over the years, I have been able to hunt several places where I had to scout before I hunted. My normal routine would be to walk around in the woods for a few hours and determine where I needed to set a tree stand. Most of the time, I would decide on the first place I saw signs of any deer activity. I was too quick to settle on a spot because I felt like I was wasting time walking when I could be hunting. As a result, I rarely saw many deer. The professionals do it differently. On a five-day hunt, they will spend at least two days locating the deer and finding out where the best places to hunt might be. They will also consider the wind in determining when to hunt a particular spot. They have discovered that killing a deer is much easier when you know its pattern and tendencies. They have discovered the actual harvest is simply the culmination of time spent learning the behavior and practices of the game they are hunting. They were not successful because they pulled the trigger on a deer but because they understood how their deer thought and acted.
What goes for good hunters also goes for good communicators. Good communicators are not able to connect with an audience simply because they have good speaking skills. They connect because they have learned how their audience learns and behaves. They have learned it is worthless to have answers to questions no one is asking. Over the years it seems for many pastors, we spent too much time communicating and not enough time on finding out how our audience learns and what their tendencies were. We preached on Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night, and did it with passion. But when you look at church attendance today, I'm not sure that we were as effective as we could have been. For me, I wish I had spent more time scouting and less time in the stand. Because the goal was not to see how many times I could speak. It was to celebrate a harvest. And that is still the goal.
Gary Miller can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.