What lessons in leadership and decision-making can we learn from the bible story of Jonah and the Whale? We often think of the story from the perspective of the prophet but what about if we were to pursue it from the captain’s position?
Lets consider this as you ponder who is in your boat?
You can read the entire story in the Old Testament book of Jonah. Jonah was a prophet given a directive from God to travel to the city of Nineveh with a call for them to repent. However, he disobeyed and found a boat headed to Tarshish which was in the opposite direction and attempted to outrun God.
Jonah booked passage on a ship which carried cargo. The captain, who is never named and his crew were doing what they obviously had done many times before and so when the storm rose up with such fury, they immediately felt that it was not a normal storm. They did their best to protect the cargo and the vessel but when the storm raged more they called on each passenger to cry out to their god for mercy.
Jonah at this point was fast asleep in the belly of the ship unaware of the storm outside. The captain alerts him and wonders how he can sleep at a time like this. Cry on to your god so that we can be saved, he instructs. Jonah knows he’s the cause but he does not own up to it right away. Eventually, they cast lots to see who could be at fault and Jonah was singled out. They did not get angry but wanted to know is this true? Is it you why this storm has come and threatens to destroy us? He confesses that he was a Hebrew who ran away from the service of the true and living God, the creator of the very nature that was fighting against them. This immediately made the situation even more real to the sailors because although they did not serve Him, they knew God existed. What can we do to stop it, they ask. The response. Throw me overboard.
It still was not an option the captain wanted to pursue and they began to throw cargo overboard in the hopes of keeping the ship afloat and everyone alive but it changed nothing. Eventually, they begged God for mercy and threw Jonah into the water, which immediately quieted the winds and the waves.
As you consider this story, I wonder who is in your boat? You are the captain of your business, your family, your own life. Have you done an assessment lately of the people in your circle? This captain knew the men who he worked with and they worked as a team to save the vessel. Jonah was an anomaly just as the storm was and so he questioned him. When last have you questioned by word and also a review of actions how you relate to those around you and the value they are adding to your life goals?
The captain was a business man. It was important to get the cargo to the next port so he could be paid. When that storm arose and they pitched the goods overboard, so went his profit. Often we have people in our life who are causing our businesses to die but we have not sussed them out. They are along for the ride but are fast asleep unaware that your business is in jeopardy and they may be the cause.
We have friends who are takers and never the givers and they are draining us emotionally, finally and physically. We may have family members who are sources of constant emotional pain but we’ve lived with it for so long, we are not aware that they are the cause of the pain and our lack of progress.
The captain searched out Jonah asleep in that boat and woke him up. Its time you wake up the people in your life who are not adding value to your life. You need to question why they are there and what they plan to change to improve the situation. Living with a raging storm not of your own making cannot be left to continue.
As a leader in your family and/or business you need to evaluate each relationship. Which ones can you work to improve? Which ones have you tried repeatedly to change but are outside of your control? You may have prayed and cried about that husband or wayward child but its time to release them to God for Him to handle. Often we protect them as the captain attempted to protect Jonah at first rather than comply with his request to toss him into the sea. But that will cost us as it did the captain. The captain had already lost most if not all of his cargo before he chose to take the tough move to put the prophet out. He made it to his port but he’d already lost his income. Having relationships in your life that do not fulfill your purpose, help you advance your business or personal vision comes with a price and will eventually destroy you if you do not make changes to alter the present course.
Check your boat.
- Review your personal vision. How important is it for you to reach your vision and have you set a time frame?
- Who are the people in your life that support that vision?
- Who are the people in your life that by actions or inaction limit your ability to manifest your vision?
- Have you tried to get them to embrace your vision? If so, is it worth it to try again or is it time to cut them loose?
- Get brutally honest and admit the truth. _________________________ is stopping me from reaching my vision and I choose to not give them that power anymore.
- Follow through on what you know needs to be done.
- Make the decision to keep your vision for your business or family first and guard against Jonahs getting in your boat.