I have been challenged lately to look through a biblical lens at the principles of work and rest, which causes me to ask the question, “in the end, whose work is it?” Honestly wrestling with this question has defining implications in our lives.
Recently, I met with a mentor who shared an illustration with me that has been very helpful. He told me some leaders live life and minister with a “speedboat mentality” while others minister with a “sailboat mentality.”
A speedboat mentality puts me at the controls. Ultimately, I’m responsible for my successes or failures, depending on how fast I go and how well I drive the boat. Life’s challenges are obstacles to be broken through and overcome. I’m fueled by my willpower and the adrenaline rush that comes with overtaking the next wave. Rest comes when I run out of fuel, which often leaves me stranded in the middle of the lake.
The lesson for me is that I must not lose sight of God as my source of fuel. I need to practice the rhythms of rest and worship He has put in place from the beginning of creation. As I abide in Him, He will bear much fruit. This reality leads me toward a different mentality of life and leadership—one that depends upon God and rests and worships in the rhythms of His design.
A sailboat mentality puts God in control. Ultimately, He’s responsible for my successes or failures, depending on how the winds move and how I respond. My role is to navigate the boat in alignment with the wind that the Holy Spirit provides. Life’s challenges are a part of the journey and used by God for His glory and the sanctifying work He’s doing in me and those around me. With a sailboat mentality, I’m fueled by the unlimited power of God, and I can rest in the rhythms of His creative design.
On the surface, living a sailboat life sounds easy and, in our culture, almost a cop-out. In my experience, it’s just the opposite. Peace-filled? Yes. Easy? Not at all. Jesus put it this way: “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matt 10:39).
A sailboat life is a life of surrender and trust. It’s a life in which we give up our pride for His glory. Just as we give obediently and generously of our finances—trusting He will provide all that we need—we give of our time in rest and worship, trusting He will bring results in His perfect timing.
The harsh reality is that we live in a “speedboat culture” that leaves many church leaders (not just pastors) burned out and stranded. Our American culture measures return on investment with the yardstick of productivity and results.
Our methods and standards for success are instrumental in defining a culture in which we lead. We can trust God to bear fruit as we abide in Christ, work hard, rest well and trust Him for results.
True “success” is not found in our capacity, but in God alone, and our willingness to surrender to His design. If we honestly consider God’s work in Scripture and in our lives, we will have to admit His design is seldom expedient or focused on our personal success. It’s not until we submit to Him that we experience life as He intended.