Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus.
The two of them climbed into the boat, and the wind died down. The disciples in the boat, having watched the whole thing, worshiped Jesus, saying, "This is it! You are God's Son for sure!"
~Matthew 14:29, 32-33 (The Message)~
A little over a year ago, a speaker at a church retreat was speaking on the different approaches people have to changes. He was using the story of Peter Walking on the Water as his text (okay, Jesus walking on the water, but the crux of the story is about Peter's reaction). He said that some people will react like Peter. They are jumpers. The see Jesus doing something and say "Give me the word and I'll jump right in there with you." They are quick to make the decision and able to adjust to change.
He said others are like the rest of the disciples. They are the rowers. They are still in the boat, still doing their job of rowing the boat, will get to where Jesus is but it is going to take them some more time.
As you can imagine, or may have even experienced, jumpers tend to think rowers take too long and rowers tend to think jumpers move ahead too quickly. Can make for interesting dynamics on leadership teams considering that both types of people are needed to accomplish the tasks at hand.
This talk was a turning point for German and me. We, as you may have gathered over the course of this blog, are jumpers. Especially German. When the vision is there and movement of God is happening, we want to get on with it and see things happen. Some of our friends are jumpers. But, many of our friends are rowers. They want to weigh the odds a little more, get there a little slower and be certain. This talk helped us to realize that just because they were not moving as quickly as we wanted, it did not mean that they did not want to get there in the end. It just meant that they would get there by rowing to the target not jumping out of the boat and sprinting toward it. That was encouraging. Our code word for nine months was "we're just waiting for the rowers." We encouraged others who were as frustrated as we were that "the rowers were coming.
The problem was, they never seemed to make any progress toward the goal. And in fact their conversation was filled more with fear and doubt than a strong desire to reach the goal. Nothing was moving forward. There were glimpses of God's blessings that were actually turned away (deliberately choosing to not take the offer of the blessing because "we aren't ready to do that yet"). German and I became discouraged. In fact, we have remained discouraged for some time. We are so sure that there was a path to take, but so many of our friends chose not to take it. And those of us who did take it now feel out of step with the others. A few months ago we asked the question, "How long do we need to wait on the rowers?" For us the answer was "not much longer" because God opened avenues that led us to move. More amazingly he has led us to two congregations of jumpers (I'm sure there are rowers as well), people with whom we already feel some kindred ties. But some of our friends are still in the process of waiting. And I know that it is a hard place to be so they are in the center of my prayers.
I pray that my rowing friends will eventually get to the target they see God setting before them. I confess I often wonder if their oars are even in the water, but I trust their hearts and know their desire is to follow God's call. I'm praying for my jumping friends for patience to wait on the rowers. I did not do that well and that attitude of frustration and disappointment is something that God has graciously forgiven. I pray that this situation will prepare me for the next time I am ready to jump and have to wait for those who are rowing.
Maybe you need that encouragement as well. Maybe you are a jumper who cannot understand why those around you aren't moving as quickly as you want. Trust that the rowers are headed to the same target and will get there. Or maybe you are a rower and are overwhelmed by those who want to move quickly. Trust God that He will get you to the target at the right time for you. But to both groups may I encourage that you keep grace and mercy at the forefront--it will save you from confessing sins of frustration and bitterness down the road. And most of all, which ever is your personality type, just keep focusing on the goal of Jesus and don't get distracted by the waves of doubt or fear.