Rowing the Boat Alone


Is it just me, or do toddlers seem to have a built-in independence muscle? How many times have we heard a three year old say, “I do it!!”? The problem is, we don’t grow out of it! We just put a more adult spin on it. It must be a result of the fall of humanity!

One of my new favorite books is The Boys in the Boat (2013. Daniel James Brown, Viking/Penguin Group),  the amazing story of the 1936 Olympic rowing team. George Pocock, a mentor of one of the young rowers, Joe, urged Joe to allow himself to really lean into his teammates, rather than trying to do it himself:

“He told Joe that there were times when he seemed to think he was the only fellow in the boat, as if it was up to him to row the boat across the finish line all by himself. When a man rowed like that, he said, he was bound to attack the water rather than to work with it, and worse, he was bound not to let his crew help him row. He suggested that Joe think of a well-rowed race as a symphony, and himself as just one player in the orchestra. . . . What mattered more than how hard a man rowed was how well everything he did in the boat harmonized with what the other fellows were doing. . . .  And he concluded with a remark that Joe would never forget.  “Joe, when you really start trusting those other boys, you will feel a power at work within you that is far beyond anything you’ve ever imagined. Sometimes, you will feel as if you have rowed right off the planet and are rowing among the stars.”

It’s hard to miss that throughout the Scriptures, God’s desire is for us to humble ourselves and lean into Him and into those He provides as friends of the heart, instead of maintaining an “I do it!” mentality.

The apostle Paul urged the church at Galatia to “carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2, NIV). Since the new command Jesus gave His followers is to love one another, it appears we can’t really do that unless we learn to carry each other’s burdens.

I love it! May God give me the grace to increase my leaning on those He has brought around me.

Do you ever find yourself trying to “row your boat” all by yourself? Who are the teammates God has placed around you, whose burdens you can help carry as they help carry yours?

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