That is a great question because most of us must navigate crowded harbors before we find ourselves in open waters. In short, sailing for me is when I put my confidence and trust in God to provide all that I need. That includes making me feel safe, significant, valued, loved, respected and included.
When it comes to my interactions with people who are not sailing, I find this to be true. My neighbors are rowing. My co-workers are rowing. The people in my community are rowing. None of this seems to bother me because I respect their personal agency and don’t expect or need them to be a certain way. When it comes to my church family, there too I have to respect their personal agency and not expect from them what is not a part of their belief system (yet).
When I engage with someone and “need” them to be something other than they are it can easily create tension. They inwardly feel put upon because I am demanding from them something they never agreed to provide. The love that Jesus models for us “bears all things” while compassionately acknowledging that harmful people “do not know what they are doing”. This love holds even the enemy in its heart, desiring and acting for their joy and well-being.
Lastly, there is a suffering to be endured. When we sail, our “life” comes from God. What I mean is, God initiates what we are to do. God directs us in the task. And God supplies what we need. This invariably creates conflict if others believe that we are to take our initiative and direction from them.
This does not mean that we are not under authority. But that authority has a limited scope and an obligation to persuade with Scripture and in the fruit of the Spirit any recommended behavior, course of action or disposition.
Ultimately, we all need a few fellow sailors in our life. I encourage you to identify them and find a way to include them in the rhythms of your life. Let them be among the 5 people you see and converse with the most.
I hope this sheds a little light on the question, “How do we sail among rowers?”
— Byron Parson, LA International Church of Christ