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Converting to Wind Power – Sweat, Drift, or…

Rowboat on the OceanWho Said It … John Ortberg

John Ortberg is the senior pastor at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in Menlo Park, California.

He is passionate about “spiritual formation,” which is how people become more like Jesus. His teaching brings Scripture alive and invariably includes practical applications and warm humor.

The latest of several books John has written is Faith and Doubt. He and his wife, Nancy, have three teen and young adult children.


What He Said … Sweat, Drift, or …

Significant spiritual transformation is a long-term endeavor that involves both God and us.  I liken it to crossing an ocean.

Some people try, day after day, to be good, to become spiritually mature.  That’s like taking a rowboat across the ocean.  It’s exhausting and usually unsuccessful.

Others have given up trying and throw themselves entirely on “relying on God’s grace.”  They’re like drifters on a raft.  They do nothing but hang on and hope God gets them there.  Neither trying nor drifting are very effective in bringing about spiritual transformation.

A better image is the sailboat, in which if it moves at all, it’s a gift of the wind.  We can’t control the wind, but a good sailor discerns where the wind is blowing and adjusts the sails accordingly.

Working with the Holy Spirit, which Jesus likened to the wind in John 3, means we have a part in discerning the winds, in knowing the direction we need to go, and in training our sails to catch the breezes that God provides.  That’s true transformation.

Adapted from Leadership Journal (Summer.02)


Prayer for the Week:  I’m not strong enough, Lord, to live up to your standards on my own.  Teach me how to rely on the internal power your Spirit provides.



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