The Parable Of The Canoe Race

TheDiscipleMD (Read in over 112 Countries)

A Japanese company and an American company decided to have a canoe race on the Missouri River. Both teams practiced long and hard to reach their peak performance before the race. On the big day, the Japanese won by a mile. The Americans, very discouraged and depressed, decided to investigate the reason for the crushing defeat. A team made up of senior management was formed to investigate and recommend appropriate action. Their conclusion was the Japanese had eight people rowing and one person steering, while the Americans had eight people steering and one person rowing.

Feeling a deeper study was in order, American management hired a consulting company and paid a lot of money for a second opinion. They advised that too many people were steering the boat, while not enough people were rowing. Not sure of how to utilize that information, but wanting to prevent another loss to the Japanese, the rowing team’s management structure was totally reorganized to four steering supervisors, three area steering superintendents, and one assistant superintendent steering manager. They also implemented a new performance system that would give the 1 person rowing the boat greater incentive to work harder. It was called the “Rowing Team Quality First Program,” with meetings, dinners, and free pens for the rower. There was discussion of getting new paddles, canoes and other equipment, extra vacation days for practices and bonuses. The next year the Japanese won by two miles.

Humiliated, the American management laid off the rower for poor performance, halted development of a new canoe, sold the paddles, and canceled all capital investments for new equipment. The money saved was distributed to the Senior Executives as bonuses and the next year’s racing team was outsourced to India.

Having worked as a salesman all my life this parable is obviously aimed at the corporate structure, which is famous for over analyzing everything while overlooking the obvious. Over my life I have met a lot of intelligent men both in and out of the church who have wonderful concepts, ideals and programs to implement.  But the prescription for success in life is usually just hard work.  By applying this parable to the church we see that the Lord needs some leaders,  but what He really needs most is rowers; the faithful few who are willing to do hard manual work.

The easy part of a job is holding meetings to come up with solutions to problems. The hardest part is finding people (rowers) to work in carrying out the solutions. Many people labor unceremoniously throughout theirs lives as “workers” of the kingdom. They might not be leading, but they are those who would “fall on their swords” to advance the kingdom to its ultimate victorious destiny!  The Lord said:

“…the last shall be first, and the first last.” (Matthew 20:16)

I believe that the ‘rowers’ of the kingdom will find themselves at the front of the line when it comes to the rewards of heaven.  Let all of us be willing “workers,” not just willing leaders.

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