It all comes down to the difference between a powerboat and a sailboat.
Powerboats take you where you want to travel. They’re predictable. Gas and go. You don’t have to pay much attention to the wind or the direction of the currents.
Sailboats are different. Sailboats go where the wind blows. You can’t override wind conditions and currents; instead, you must remain sensitive to them. A powerboat may look exciting and give you a sense of control, but a sailboat will take you farther than a motorboat could ever go.
“I found that I had to make a decision: either buy a sailboat or a powerboat. I couldn’t straddle the line,” writes Roger Parrott in his book Opportunity Leadership. You may have guessed that he picked the sailboat.
The sailboat is a metaphor. Parrott writes:
We, as leaders, need the courage to break this cycle of dependency on the powerboat of planning and instead put our trust in the sailboats of opportunity that are prepared to go wherever the wind of God might take us. Traditional planning, at best, severely limits our potential, and at worst, drains energy from ministries. The implementation of the brightest plans we can envision is only a small glimmer of where God would lead us if we loosen our grip on attempting to control the future.
A Different Approach to Leadership
If you’re involved in any kind of leadership, you’ll benefit from this book.
Much of the literature on leadership is built on the powerboat model: set a vision, chart the future, and overcome obstacles. We’ve seen and lived the shortcomings of this approach.
But we also didn’t know of any other way to lead. That’s where Opportunity Leadership helps. Written by the president of Belhaven University in Jackson, Mississippi, this book provides a practical, tested approach to a different approach to leadership. We get to see the principles of the book lived out through the stories that Parrott tells from his experience.
It may seem at first that opportunity leadership is easier. Anyone who’s been sailing, though, knows that sailing may be fun, but it’s not easy. It involves skill, effort, and teamwork. This book gets practical about the kinds of skills and practices you’ll need to practice opportunity leadership.
I’ve lost track of how many leadership books I’ve read. Opportunity Leadership is different. It provides a unique contribution. I’d recommend this book to any leader. It’s a valuable introduction and field guide to a completely different way to lead.
The most critical turning points and breakthroughs of ministry are rarely planned.
As Christian leaders, we need to spend more time listening, dreaming, and praying to find God’s destinations for our ministry future, rather than laboring at whiteboards attempting to draw out schematics of God’s best for us.
Teach yourself and others that NOT being able to see the future is one of God’s greatest gifts to us. In providing just enough light for the next steps, rather than illuminating the entire journey, God has been gracious to give us time, experience, and wisdom to be ready to handle what is to come.