What Happens In Your Boat Doesn’t Stay In Your Boat

business co-labor integration kingdom business marketplace Jun 01, 2023

When we began learning about God and business over four decades ago it seemed to be something that a fringe few were talking about. About 25 years ago I predicted that within five years every major church would have a ministry to businesspeople just like they have one for children or the elderly. Well, it took longer than that, but there is now a growing acceptance that work is worship, business is ministry, business is a calling and most people are called to the marketplace… and this is not a lower calling than pulpit preaching or being a traditional missionary.

Many of the initial core team called by Jesus were fishermen and they seemed to have a progressive experience with Jesus in their place of work, especially their boats. Let’s look at seven of these boat experiences to see how it goes from disassociation to integration:

  1. “He just used my boat!”

Imagine what it was like for the pre-followers of Jesus to have the new street preacher show up and ask to use their business to better project his voice to the listening crowds. Perhaps Peter and his friends sat back in awe as they considered how world-changing words tumbled out of their boat and across the water to the thirsty crowds who took it all in. They might have looked at each other and said, “He used our boat!”

He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat. Luke 5:3

2. “Get out of my boat!”

Then things got a bit more personal because he told them to set off fishing. They caught a miraculous number of fish and Simon realizes this was not just a new preacher, but someone more. Simon became aware of his own inadequacy and sin and says, “Get out of my boat.” Many businesspeople, especially men, hide from God in their boats; their businesses are their man caves where they call the shots. Then someone shows up who rattles their false security and they say, “Get out of my business.”

When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken… Luke 5:8-9

3. “Look who’s sleeping in my boat.”

Another time Jesus told his core team to row to the other side of the lake; he was with them in the boat yet decided to take a solid nap. A scary storm broke out and the seasoned fishermen realized they were in trouble. Jesus had told them to get in the boat, he was with them in the boat, but they were in trouble and he didn’t seem to care. He was sleeping through the potentially business-destroying storm. So they woke him and lamented, “Don’t you care about us?” He spoke to the storm, everything settled down, and immediately they were at their destination. They learned the lesson of always having a 2/3 majority in the storm: Jesus with us + Jesus’ word that we are going to the other side vs. the storm.
Many businesspeople leave Jesus sleeping in their business and only wake him when there is a storm. Enlightened ones co-labor with him all the time.

As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” Luke 8:23-24

4. “Jesus sent my boat into a storm”

After an amazing day of seeing miracles—5,000 men were fed, not to mention women and children, with 5 loaves and 2 fish—Jesus dispatched his team into the boat. Once again, they were battling the natural elements when Jesus appeared. Perhaps they were wondering, “Why is it such hard work following Jesus? He tells us to get in the boat and go somewhere, so surely the wind should be in our favor, the waves friendly, the elements supportive. Why, God?” I have often wondered, “If God is in this, surely it should be easier?!” But, for me at least, business has not been a walk in the park or a smooth sail across a calm pond. It has been a battle… still is. Jesus still sends me in my boat into storms. Get used to it: boats are meant for transportation, going places, and fishing, not sitting in yacht clubs while sipping non-alcoholic G&Ts on the deck.

When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. John 6:16-18

5. "The fear of God hit my boat.”

Back to the boys in the boat, while they are rowing against the storm they see Jesus again, but this time he is walking on the water. “It scared them” to the point of “screaming in fear.” The twin factors of the wild elements and the out-of-the-box way Jesus seemed to supersede those elements—he walked all over the water that could have drowned them—was enough to fill them with fear. Business can be scary, but we are to fear the right things. “The fear of man brings a snare” but “the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.” Too many businesspeople manage risk so well that they don’t experience storms and, if they do, bale out the boat with bilge pumps rather than leave room for Jesus to scare them with a supernatural intervention. If following God doesn’t involve a little fright from time to time, maybe you’re not risking enough.

Shortly before dawn he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw him and were terrified. Mark 6:48-50

6. “My boat became a place of spontaneous worship.”

Following a small debate they decided to invite Jesus into the boat—after they got their theological issues about whether Jesus still does miracles today, does he do them in the marketplace or only at evangelistic crusades, was that just for the Old Testament or still for today, etc. etc. Then the wind calmed down and scripture says, “Then the followers in the boat worshipped Jesus and said, ‘You really are the son of God.’”
No one said, “Wow, that was amazing, so let’s find a synagogue and go and worship Jesus there.” He was with them in their business, and they worshipped him there and then… right in the business.
[If your boat has not done anything kingdom-dangerous you are of no threat to the devil and you may not have storms that warrant inviting a scary-looking Jesus into the boat. If so, you can safely save your worship for after-hours or Sunday mornings. Truth be told, it is not an either-or but a both-and: worship on the spot, and reflect and worship on a schedule.]

And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” Matthew 14:32-22

7. “I was recommissioned in my boat.”

After the resurrection, Jesus used the setting of boats/business and fish to recommission his scattered disciples. He found the despondent lads doing what they knew best, and they spent the whole night fishing without success. “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No,” they answered. “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” All of a sudden the nets are bursting with fish and they realize it is the resurrected Jesus. John says to Peter, “It is the Lord!” After they dragged the net to the shore they saw it was full of 153 large fish.
When Lyn and I visited the Sea of Galilee our guide explained the meaning of 153: 1 = “I” and 5 = “Am” and 3 = “God” — the miraculous catch preached a resonating sermon to the fishers of men: “I am GOD.”

So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. John 21:11

The vast majority of us should expect to have our commission confirmed in our place of work. Our boats are the best vehicle for getting Jesus to the people who need him. Our fishing can be fully integrated with our ministry endeavors. Yes, we will need miracles in our boats and we will see the supernatural, even when it scares us a little. We will see the supremacy of God over all obstacles, and we will be routinely recommissioned to work with God and “do business until I come.”