There’s a great scene in the movie Dead Poet’s Society, where Robin Williams’ character (a teacher) tells his students to stand on top of a desk and look at the world differently. He encourages them to see things differently, to think differently, to become who they are and to find their “barbaric yawp.”
Perspective makes all the difference – one sees a a fearful unknown, while another sees an adventure. In 1 Sam16, a father sees a shepherd boy, but Jesse sees a king. In the next chapter, an army sees an mighty warrior giant, but David sees a mere human coming against God. It’s been proven over and over throughout time. Do you see big and crazy circumstances, or do you see a bigger God. AW Tozer said it this way: “What you think about God is the most important thing about you.”
So how do you gain this perspective? When you’ve tried standing on everything there is to stand on and you’ve looked at every possible angle? When you know it’s gotta change, but you just can’t seem to see a way to make things work. What do you do? What do you do, when you’re “yawp” isn’t very “barbaric” because you’re not really even sure it’s gonna work?
It’s tough, but I gotta say, the best answer is to wait a little longer for clarity, but eventually there comes a time when you just gotta “yawp” as “barbarically” as possible anyway! Let your “yawp” rise up from within you and then stand up and boldly proclaim your “barbaric yawp.” Think about Joshua as he marched around Jericho. Surely, he had some questions about how it was gonna all play out. He had to wonder if this was the right perspective or if he had somehow missed something. Surely, he wasn’t very “barbaric” about this decision on the inside. But on the outside – he stood strong – and when the timing was right, and his “yawp” had risen up within him, he just went for it and trusted that the perspective he had been shown was from God.
Mark Batterson talks about leaders as lion chasers, and he says that they are people who are willing to “look foolish.” Joshua would have looked pretty foolish if he hadn’t trusted God’s voice and the perspective he had been given. He “yawped” with the best of ’em that day. It was more than “barbaric” to do battle with some lanterns, horns, and some marching men. And had they been defeated that day, well. . . can you imagine the headlines the next day?
Anyway, I think there are way too many people who never “yawp.” They come to a defining moment, and aren’t prepared, or are just too scared and they cower. What a tragedy to get to the end of life to have never found your voice, your calling, your purpose, your “yawp.” Another quote from the movie sums up this thought: “I went into the woods because I wanted to live deliberately. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life… to put to rout all that was not life; and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.“
So what is your “Yawp?” Will you let it rise up in you and allow it to burst forth? A “barbaric yawp” is one which is supported by the whole of your being. It’s from the gut, from the heart, deep, passionate, untamed – barbaric. It’s not something you can undo either. You either go for it and fail miserably, or you miss your opportunity and regret it forever.