Tug Boat Captain
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Years ago my business travels took me to the City of Louisville, Kentucky which is nestled on the banks of the Ohio River. I would often stay at the Galt House Hotel to have a bird’s eye view of the barge traffic carefully being guided down the river. Tugboat captains are charged with successfully navigating barges through a myriad of obstacles. I marveled at their precision. Have you ever seen yourself as the tugboat captain of your own life? You should. Please read more……
1 Corinthians 6.19 states the following: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” The Catholic Catechism reemphasizes this point in paragraph 2280 by saying it this way: “We are stewards, not owners, of the life God has entrusted to us.”
Think about what I just wrote. The Bible tells us that we are not the owners of our own life. God has merely entrusted us to be stewards of the life He gave to us.
Stewardship is nothing new. God has always expected His people to be good stewards. Jesus often spoke of stewardship. Stewardship challenges us to recognize that everything we have is a gift from God. We can take credit for nothing. This includes life itself.
Most of us tend to think of stewardship as the way we are called to handle our time, talent and treasure. Too often we have overlooked the theological reality that we are also stewards of our very existence. This can be a perplexing reality to wrap our mind around.
Being a steward of ourselves is a powerful concept to ponder. It is also an awesome responsibility. As Christians we are asked to disassociate us from us. We are instructed not to identify ourselves as ourselves. Instead we must learn to accept the role of being the steward of ourselves. Our challenge is this: we must learn to mentally and spiritually “step outside of ourselves” and cooperate with God in the effort to guide and direct ourselves to our eternal home, while of course, fulfilling our discipleship mission along the way.
To help us grasp just what it means to be a steward of ourselves, we can employ the imagery of each of us as the tugboat captain who guides ourselves through the river of life. The good news is that we are not alone in this navigational challenge. We know that Jesus is always at our side. He sends the Holy Spirit to guide us as well. He has also given us our guardian angel and He has placed other people into our life to help us with any needed course corrections.
Let’s take a look at two examples. The first one helps us to see how we can get outside of ourselves when dealing with our own sinful condition. The second example reveals a new way of dealing with the wounds we have that are caused by others.
Let’s suppose you are someone who continually gossips about others. Rather than saying: “I am gossiper,” consider expressing yourself this way, “I am someone, who at times, is prone to gossip.” We are not defined by our sins. By stepping outside of ourselves and seeing ourselves in the role of a steward, we can use a new form of “self-talk” and experience a healthier view of life. Looking from outside of ourselves, we might gain a better vantage point to see the obstacles in our way.
Here is yet another example. Perhaps you are someone who was mistreated as a child or someone who is still being mistreated today. This mistreatment might have been, or still is, in the form of physical abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse or bullying by someone. The natural tendency is for you to see yourself as a victim. If, however, you can change your frame of reference and now see yourself as the steward, put in charge by God, to carefully guide the person who was victimized, in this case yourself, you might gain new spiritual insights that will help you chart your course in life. Seeing yourself as the steward of the victim rather than as the victim might give you a higher viewing platform to spot any turbulent waters lying ahead.
A tug boat captain is responsible for safely guiding valuable cargo through treacherous waterways. There are unseen shoals, rocky shorelines, shallow sand bars, bridges crossing over the river and other navigational obstructions. A trained tugboat captain has knowledge of these obstacles in advance. If we accept the responsibility to be the tug boat captain of our life, we might gain the ability to act in anticipation of problems rather than reacting to them after they occur. As the tugboat captain, we can calmly assess all of the issues and then call on the assistance of our Lord to carefully help guide us to safer waters.
Lord God, please instill in me the ability to step outside of myself and help me to gain new insights with the assistance of your Holy Spirit to be better prepared to deal with any difficulties and hardships that are in my path. Make me a good steward of my life, amen.
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Your comment on getting outside of ourselves and aiming for our eternal home fits well with C S Lewis’ writing on Hope in his book “Mere Christianity”. He says that the virtue of Hope is the “continual looking forward to the eternal world.” Not that that takes us out of present world, but that by “aiming at Heaven, we get earth as well.” (page 118) I read that as saying that by focusing on the eternal, my attitude and approach to my earthly challenges now has the proper perspective and solutions come from God who has an infinitely better plan for my life than I do. So as a steward, I want to “seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given besides.” (Mt 6: 33)
Thanks for sharing your take on this topic. I agree with you, God will always guide us on the river than we will guide ourselves.
Thanks again Brian. Novel concept to me with me not being me inside me but a steward looking from outside at God and the Holy Spirit at my controls. Is this what you are saying?
Thanks for posting. What I was saying is that you, God and His Holy Spirit are all on the outside in the tug boat. As a steward you are challenged to navigate yourself through the turbulent waters of life on your way to Heaven.