A number of years ago, I read If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat by John Ortberg. Ortberg is one of my favorite writers (and preachers), and his book titles are the best (e.g., Everybody’s Normal Till You Get to Know Them and When the Game Is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box).
Earlier this year, I listed this book in a post on the 15 Books That Have Shaped Me as a Leader. As I said there, it’s not specifically about leadership, but it’s a great book for people who want to do something great for God!
Of course, the book is based on the story where Jesus comes to the disciples walking on water (Matthew 14.22-33). Peter chose to walk on the water while the other eleven disciples remained in the boat.
Ortberg argues that it’s “primarily a story about obedience”; “it’s about extreme discipleship” (16).
There are a lot of great statements in the book. Some of my favorites deal with the fear that keeps us from getting out of the boat …
If you want to walk on water, you’ve got to get out of the boat. I believe there is something—Someone—inside us who tells us there is more to life than sitting in the boat. You were made for something more than merely avoiding failure. There is something inside you that wants to walk on water—to leave the comfort of routine existence and abandon yourself to the high adventure of following God. (17)
In the story, Jesus says, “Don’t be afraid” (a common command in the Bible). Ortberg writes …
The choice to follow Jesus—the choice to grow—is the choice for the constant recurrence of fear. You’ve got to get out of the boat a little every day. … Here is the deep truth about water-walking: The fear will never go away. … Fear and growth go together like macaroni and cheese. It’s a package deal. The decision to grow always involves a choice between risk and comfort. This means that to be a follower of Jesus you must renounce comfort as the ultimate value of your life. (21)
When you are in a situation that creates fear, but you face it head-on, you will feel a rush of satisfaction in knowing you displayed courage. … But when you wimp out by refusing to take the difficult step … you die a little. If you live in fear, you will never experience the potential God has placed in you … growth always involves risk, and risk always involves fear. (126-127)
Good reminders for all who follow God, and for all who lead adventures for God!