Row the Boat

Read This Week: 1 Corinthians 4

This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.
– 1 Corinthians 4:1-2 NIV

“Keep rowing!” This was a rallying cry issued to men in the galleys of ships so they wouldn’t give up on their job. It was a motivational tool for rowers to keep paddling no matter what happened or how exhausted they felt. They were not to look at the circumstances or the other people but remain faithful to the goal of moving the boat forward successfully.

This a great principle for the Christian life and one Paul evokes in 1 Corinthians 4. When he refers to himself and Apollos as “servants of Christ” he uses the word servant which means under-rower or a subordinate rower. He wants to make it clear to the people of Corinth who have become arrogant that they aren’t in charge of the ship. They are merely called to row the boat at the instruction of their captain, Jesus. According to Paul, Christians have the role of servants and faithful rowers of the master’s ship, not the operation of it.

If we will simply take the position of a faithful servant as outlined in chapter 4, it will eliminate the constant, unhealthy pursuit of personal agendas that can greatly hamper our effectiveness for God and His work. Our agenda isn’t always God’s so it’s better to be submissive to his leading instead of allowing our selfish, misguided ambitions to hurt the gospel ministry and damage other people. Paul writes in verse 5 that God “will expose the motives of the heart” so we must be sure that our attitudes and motivations are Christ-centered and service-oriented.

God, by His grace and good pleasure, has given us the privilege of serving Him and being His ambassadors on earth. We have the honor of sitting in the galley of His ship and rowing it toward his kingdom purposes. He merely calls on us to trust Him, obey His word and stay faithful to His truth no matter what life brings. We keep rowing on His command.

Paul concludes this chapter with the statement, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.” In essence, he is challenging the Corinthian church and us to stop talking about what we know and be faithful to what God has already said. When it comes to life, leadership, relationships, and parenting, we are simply to take our directions from the captain and row the boat.


  1. Ken on November 20, 2019 at 2:26 pm

    As we all know, there are many distractions in the world. There are issues and people that can get you off track. It’s so important to keep your eye on the ball, focus on God and your assignments with Him. Be the hope for others and a good mentor.

    I know for me, it always seems like something or someone is trying to take my focus off God and His plans for the moment and day. I have come to acknowledge that to truly succeed, you have to stay focused on God and stay on track with his plans and purposes for your life.

    I have a place of fulfillment with God that the world does not have, nor can it offer. So, I’d like to encourage you to do life with God. Take the adventure, receive the gifts and benefits He has for you. It will truly lead to a life of significance and success in Christ.

    • Jason on November 22, 2019 at 10:37 am

      This is such a relevant and needed encouragement, Ken. I once had a spiritual mentor tell me that, “The enemy doesn’t have to destroy you, He just has to distract you.” I have found this to be true just as you outlined in your post. If we become distracted and get our eyes off of God for long enough, we will drift off of the path and purpose He has for us. It can be subtle or immediate and can lead to negative things for our lives.

      May we all stay focused on God and realize as you said that we have a place of fulfillment with God that the world does not have, nor can it offer. There is nothing like Him in this world that should demand our attention or guide our lives.

  2. Heidi on November 23, 2019 at 8:30 am

    Thank you, Jason, for sharing! That was awesome!

    Jesus was so faithful to the Father while He was here on earth. He is the best example of a great servant. He looked out for others, especially for those who love God. He knew His mission and why He was here. While He was on the way to the cross, no matter what people were saying or doing, He kept His eyes on why He was here.

    He didn’t let the people who were against Him get Him distracted. He knew He was faithful and what His mission was. He continues to look for people who will join Him to help those who want to join His team, desire to learn how to be a faithful servant. To look out for those who are ready to join the Family of God and to keep going, rowing in His boat, learn to be the best follower because we want to, we desire to be the best ministering servant for the kingdom of God!

    I hope you say yes today to God because He loves you!

    • Jason on December 17, 2019 at 11:58 am

      Thank you for your encouraging words, Heidi! Praise God for His word and for the ability to talk about the Scriptures with other believers who love Him.

      I appreciate your comment very much and was challenged by this: “He didn’t let the people who were against Him get Him distracted.” This has been one of the bigger struggles of my life and leadership and one of the things that constantly hindered me from rowing the boat. I allowed negative, critical people to have too much of an influence on my thinking and walk with God.

      In this new season of life, I am prayerful and concentrating on being faithful to “row the boat” no matter who or what comes against me. To be as you said, “faithful to the mission.” I pray the same for you. Thank you for that encouragement and challenge.

  3. Jeri Centers on November 23, 2019 at 2:43 pm

    I received some insight from 1 Corinthians 4 verse 1. God was saying to me that He is the truth and I am to abide in His will. Labor in Him and keep pressing on. He will give me the strength to do my work and reach out to others and also lead others to spiritual life. He wants me to keep on doing good as His servant.

    What that means to me is to always listen to God’s instructions when He says to help others. Know Him better and always be a good steward of the life He gave me.

    • Jason on December 17, 2019 at 12:11 pm

      This is a great word for all of us to keep going and being faithful, Jeri. It seems so simple but often it is difficult when the cares of life and this world press in on us. May God give us His strength and grace to keep going, serving Him and sharing His gospel with those who don’t believe.

  4. Sam Centers on November 23, 2019 at 7:45 pm

    God drew me to verse 2 and he was saying to me, “I gave you the tools to go out and share with others. But it is up to you to show them that you are a true man of God and a trustworthy steward of my light. They will respond more to you when they know you can truly be trusted and have their best interest at heart.”

    What that means to me is that we have to carry ourselves as Christ did in order to show others around us that we are true and trusted men of God.

    • Jason on December 17, 2019 at 12:19 pm

      This is such good wisdom, Sam. I once heard someone say that if we love and serve God the way that we are supposed to then we won’t have a problem influencing people in the right way. That is simply just another way to say what you did at the end of your comment: “We have to carry ourselves as Christ did in order to show others around us that we are true and trusted men of God.”

      Our walk with the Lord will determine our expression of Him to others. The closer we are to Jesus, the more people will authentically see Him in us. I appreciate this reminder.

  5. Alma on November 23, 2019 at 8:50 pm

    God gave me a song this week:

    We are children of the Lord, of the Lord
    We are children of the Lord

    Singing, praising, singing and praising
    We are children of the Lord

    Learning, trusting, learning and trusting and having faith
    We are children of the lord.

    When we have God in our lives and trust him with all the things, it will work out for our good. We love you, God.

    • Jason on December 17, 2019 at 12:26 pm

      Thank you for this beautiful offering from your heart to God, Alma. I think it easy to forget in all of our struggles and challenges and just trying to make it in our daily lives, that we are God’s children and that He loves us and wants the best for us. As you said, we simply have to trust Him and all the benefits of being His children are ours in Christ. That is a wonderful promise to be reminded of.

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