Christ’s Teaching on Human Partnership
In this bible study we examine interactions at the call-up of the first disciples of Jesus (based on the account in Luke 5:1–11) to understand God’s expectations and designs for human partnerships. The interactions illustrate that God expects people to work together, in collaboration, to accomplish objectives that he places in our path. For each assignment, he chooses a leader and provides opportunity for other potential participants to join the leader in an alliance to accomplish the task. The chosen leader is expected to recognize the assignment—an opportunity that God has placed in his/her path, start work as needed while leaving doors open for others to contribute. The other potential participants are expected to recognize the opportunity and make themselves available to contribute, by staying close enough to offer needed assistance but far enough to avoid getting in the way of accomplishing the objective. We learn through the interactions that God will reward all participants in a successful alliance. Leading or following, the size of your harvest will be determined by your capacity.
ONE OF TWO BOATS The events started at the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus saw two boats at the water’s edge and entered one [Luke 5:2–3]. He needed the boat as a platform or stage from which to conduct his teaching. There is no apparent reason for his choice of one out of the two boats that he saw. There is nothing to distinguish one boat from the other as bigger, stronger, higher, or more appealing in any way. He saw two boats and chose one. Any reasons he may have had for his choice is within his mind and not disclosed.
JUST ANOTHER BOAT Based on Christ’s action here, we understand that God may choose any person to lead a cause, not because the person is better or different than others by any human features but for his own reasons that no human can discern. Therefore, the chosen leader should accept the call with humility toward God and other people knowing that the choice is not based on his/her being better than any. In the words of the apostle Paul: “For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?” [1 Corinthians 4:7]. In God’s eyes, each of us is just another “boat;” equally entitled to happiness, joy, fulfillment, and success; irrespective of being the chosen boat or other boat.
God’s Entry Brings Recognition
REMARKABLE POSITIVE CHANGE The boat that Jesus entered became known as “the one belonging to Simon” [Luke 5:3] as soon as he entered. Not only did Simon’s boat gain recognition, his life changed remarkably from the moment that Jesus entered his boat. When God enters a person’s life, business, or any other interest, remarkable and positive changes occur that make people notice the person or business significantly more than previously. Therefore, one way to determine if God has called you to an alliance opportunity is to look for the “hand of God” in the endeavor that has attracted your attention.
The Faithful Rewarder
DIRECT INSTRUCTION After the boat that he chose had served him, Jesus gave a direct instruction that positioned the boat for a mighty blessing. God is a faithful rewarder. He always rewards a person, blesses him/her, for service rendered. However, the form of the reward may differ from a person’s expectation. Instead of offering Peter money or any other material in return for using his boat, he gave Peter an instruction: “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch” [Luke 5:4].
READY TO ACCEPT A LIFT? God’s answer to a person’s prayer is at times difficult to discern. He often gives an instruction instead of a “material shower” as one might expect. As we discussed in a previous bible study at This_Link, in order to accept and utilize a lift from God, a person has to be working hard and diligently in order to recognize the instruction and implement it. One instruction from God can re-order a person’s life if implemented. Simon was ready to implement his instruction and did so immediately.
Wisdom of the Other Boat
OTHER BOAT FOLLOWED The instruction to put out into deep water was given to Simon’s boat only, but the other boat followed. We believe the other boat followed because water depth increases gradually from the shore to the deep water at the Sea of Galilee where this event occurred. Deep water is approximately one kilometer from shore. Therefore, the other boat must have been in close proximity to Simon’s boat at the time Simon called for assistance by signaling “their partners in the other boat to come and help them” [Luke 5:7]. The boat must have followed Simon’s boat as he implemented the instruction to put out into deep water.
CLOSE ENOUGH BUT NOT TOO CLOSE This action of the other boat illustrates a key aspect of the spirit of partnership, which we refer to as the “wisdom of the other boat.” The other boat followed closely enough to hear the call for assistance but far enough away to not interfere with the chosen boat as it tried to implement the instruction. When you observe evidence of God working in another person’s life or business: instead of recoiling in jealousy, criticizing, or wondering why God chose him/her instead of you; move closer to seek opportunities to assist in whatever capacity you can, but stay far enough away so you do not become a burden on the endeavor. That is the wisdom of the other boat.
Ordained Harvest for Both Boats
Simon’s crew let down their net in obedience to the second part of Jesus’ instruction and “… caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink” [Luke 5:6-7]. Here, “began to sink” means both boats were filled to capacity, such that any addition would have caused the boat to sink. First, this means the harvest was made to measure, i.e., enough to fill the capacity of each boat.
EARNING ORDAINED BLESSING Second, when Jesus saw two empty boats with defeated fishermen that were about to hang their net, though he entered one boat, at harvest time he ordained a harvest for both boats. Therefore, when God chooses a person and gives another an opportunity to witness the event, he has called both of them: the chosen person to lead and the other person to assist as needed. He has ordained a blessing for both and they will retain their positions to earn the blessing if they obey the call. In the same way that Jesus ordained a harvest for the two boats and the “other boat” retained its position to earn the blessing by following the chosen boat.
Blessing Determined by Capacity
Each boat was filled to capacity. Therefore, the size of harvest for each boat was determined by its capacity, irrespective of being the chosen boat or the other boat.
MEASURED TO AVAILABLE CAPACITY God’s blessing in a person’s life will be determined by his/her capacity. If God calls you to an alliance, maybe by giving you the opportunity to witness “his hand” in another person’s life or business, the blessing you earn by obeying is determined by your capacity and independent of whether you are called as a leader, adviser, assistant, or whatever role.
Identity of the Boats
FIRST FOUR DISCIPLES The first boat was identified as Simon’s boat after Jesus entered the boat [Luke 5:3]. His brother Andrew was with him [Matthew 4:18]. The second boat, when it followed the chosen boat, was identified as the boat of “James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners” [Luke 5:10]. They became the first four disciples of Jesus: “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people…” and “…they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him” [Luke 5:10–11]. Both the chosen boat and the other boat were called to service through this event. They both obeyed, and the call changed and enriched the lives of Simon, Andrew, James, and John as we know today.
PRINCIPLE OF WORKING IN ALLIANCE God loves both the chosen person and the other person, though he chooses one as leader. The chosen leader needs support of the other participant. The other needs leadership of the chosen. Together they will get to the harvest and earn their ordained blessing.
BENEFIT OF WORKING IN ALLIANCE The chosen boat would have been overwhelmed if the other boat did not follow. Also, the other boat would have left empty, frustrated, defeated, and unhappy. The boats preserved and earned their ordained blessing by working in alliance. The other boat followed the chosen boat strategically: close enough to assist when needed but far enough to not interfere.
RESPONSIBILITIES OF CHOSEN LEADER Provide leadership with humility toward God and other persons. Provide opportunities for collaboration with others, but retain program leadership.
RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE OTHER Follow in good faith to recognize opportunities to participate, close enough to assist as needed, but far enough to not interfere.
The information presented here is based on a bible study presentation at the April 2015 Banking Blesssings seminar. The study was led by Bishop Bob Alonge of the Capital Assembly, Abuja,Nigeria
Several people attended the seminar including Dr. Goodluck and Prof. Oby Ofoegbu, Rev Mrs. Teju Alonge, and others.