Life is like being
in a boat going down a river. Some stretches of the river are
smooth and quiet; other parts are turbulent and filled with rapids.
People react in one of three ways.
Some people are floaters. They passively resign themselves to
accept the river in its present condition. They aimlessly go along
for the ride.
Others are fighters. They try to fight the forces of nature at
every point, but eventually experience burnout, stress, depression,
A third group are navigators. They realize they can’t control
the river. They can, however, equip themselves to navigate the
river. Navigators learn to read the river and respond to it appropriately.
They “know the flow” and then they “go with
The excerpt above is a summary of a section in Kevin McCarthy’s
book entitled The On-Purpose Person. Let’s consider the
ramifications of that categorization of people.
Would you characterize yourself as a floater or a fighter? In
other words, do you passively resign yourself to the circumstances
of your life and just go along for the ride? Or do you find yourself
in adversarial relationships with everyone and everything around
you? The first response will rob you of any control in your life.
The second response will rob you of any comfort in your life.
Consider the third alternative, that of navigator. A navigator
does not naively think he is in control of all aspects of his
life. He realizes there are some givens in life he has to accept.
On the other hand, he is not overwhelmed with the assumption he
has no control on any of the aspects of his life.
Look at your life. What are some of the givens you have to accept?
What are some variables over which you have control? What are
some things you know you will be facing in the days ahead? How
can you prepare for them? Floaters aimlessly go along for the
ride. Fighters strike out at everything and everybody in random
anger. Navigators “know the flow” and then they “go
with the flow.”
Transpose yourself now into the life of the church. Are you a
floater in the life of the church, someone who passively resigns
himself to what’s going on with the assumption, “A
handful of people are going to make the decisions anyway, so what
say do I have in the matter?”
Or are you a fighter? Do you put yourself in an adversarial relationship
with those around you, always suspicious that someone is trying
to put something over on you?
Let me suggest the third alternative as a better way. Be a navigator
in the life of the church. This means to:
• Accept some givens in the life of the church over which
you have no control.
• Investigate your own life to see what competencies and
gifts you bring to the table.
• Dream about what you want the church to be.
• Look for ways in which you can have input into the ministries
of the church.
• Pray for God’s guidance for all who are in positions
• Sense where you think God is at work.
• Based on your intelligent and prayer-saturated perspective,
jump in with both feet
In other words, “know the flow” and then “go
with the flow.”