Catching the wind

Sailboat

Alex Araujo of Partners International gives us two metaphors for leadership and other aspects of life: powerboat or sailboat.  See how he compares the two types of watercraft…

Metaphor

Power

Characteristics

Concern of Operator

Powerboat

Internal

Can move regardless of the wind’s direction. Efficiently and predictably moves people from one place to another.

Internal processes – wind may affect a powerboat, but on normal days is not a decisive factor in powerboating.

Sailboat

External

Boat must be structured and positioned to catch wind.

External processes – need to pay attention to the wind and work with it.

Mr. Araujo challenges us to consider what metaphor best represents our ways of doing ministry, of mission, even of walking with God.  Our culture encourages us to be “powerboaters,” wanting much control over our destiny.  Perhaps a more biblical model to leadership and life is the sailboat.  Yes, we still have some control, but we keep a closer watch on the weather, testing the winds of the Holy Spirit and seeking His direction and His power.  There is also a contentment with staying put for a while when the wind seems all but gone.  The journey and the time it takes are just as valuable for the sailboater as the destination, likely more so than for the powerboater.

Reflecting on Mr. Araujo’s work, Al Karsten of Christian Reformed World Missions (to whom I’m indebted for my reflections here on the subject) writes in a newsletter to pastors:

…Someone who knows nothing of sailing might conclude that it suggests passivity:  Just sit back and let the wind take you.  Not so.  Sailors need a boat and gear designed and built with great care, an able crew, and great skill in navigating and catching the wind.  If any of these are lacking, they may be unable to manoeuvre to catch the wind properly, get themselves into serious danger, or simply not reach their destination.  Powerboaters need these same things, but I think in less measure than sailors.  Many [people] confess to having been powerboaters throughout their careers [and lives.  But] they express a longing to sail.

Did you know that in both Hebrew and Greek, the same words are used for spirit and wind?  Do you sense the wind of the Holy Spirit blowing in a certain direction?  Perhaps you’ve never given it much thought or prayer.  Or perhaps you’re in powerboat mode, going your own way and completely oblivious to the wind.  Stop, test the winds, and invite God to help you adjust your course as He leads.

References:
A written summary of Alex Araujo’s speech entitled “To Catch the Wind: A New Metaphor for Cross-Cultural Mission Partnerships” is here.  The sailboat picture above comes from here.

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