Insight: Rock the Boat – Use Your Strengths to Challenge the Status Quo

Insights are short, biblical truths to equip you to lead from your strengths.

You’ve heard it before: “Let’s not rock the boat.”

Image: Boulder Boat Works

Image: Boulder Boat Works

It’s a common refrain when you or those around you are opposed to change. The goal is maintaining the current state of affairs, sometimes called the “status quo.”

That is all well and good if the current state of affairs is truthful, vibrant, and growing. But what if it is not?

Here’s an Insight

Your strengths can combine with others to challenge the status quo and build God’s kingdom.

Such was the scenario in first century Palestine. Two very different people in very different positions – Peter (one of Jesus’ disciples) and Cornelius (a Roman centurion) – were confronted with an opportunity to challenge the status quo.

While Peter was impetuous by nature, he also was a devout Jew who was “well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile” (Acts 10:28, NIV). As God’s chosen people, Hebrews considered themselves to be exclusive.  Jews did not interact with other races. To do so would rock the boat. Period.

Yet a vision from God led Peter to challenge that carefully-guarded convention. Convinced of God’s call on his life to share the gospel with non-Jews, he responded with a fearless challenge to Jewish tradition. Peter took other believers from Joppa with him to travel two days’ journey down the coast to Caesarea to meet with Cornelius, a Gentile, and share the gospel.

Meanwhile Cornelius, a Roman officer in charge of 100 men, had been chosen for his position by merit. The Romans occupied Israel. Centurions were known not for their daring and courage, but rather for their steady constancy and careful deliberation – clearly the kind of men that did not rock the boat. A centurion’s duties were to drill, inspect weapons, ensure their army had food and clothing, and command their men in the field.

Cornelius would have earned his rank by demonstrating systematic adherence to expectations. His location in Caesarea would have exposed him to the Jewish teaching of one God, which he evidently embraced – quite the contrary to traditional Roman pagan idolatry and immorality. In a culture that feared and even hated the Romans, Cornelius challenged the status quo by seeking the truth. He became well-respected in the community as a God-fearing man who was generous to the needy.

Your Strengths May Rock the Boat

Peter and his entourage arrived at Cornelius’ home to find the centurion’s relatives and friends gathered, ready to hear his message. Imagine the Jews’ astonishment when “the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles” (Acts 10:45, NIV), followed by Cornelius’ invitation to remain with him for several days.

A new church was born.

Peter and Cornelius did not challenge the status quo just to be ornery, but rather with a clear leading from God.

They responded to God’s call, using their strengths and their individual positions to build His Kingdom.

How might God be calling you to rock the boat?

Now How Shall I Live?

Read the account of Cornelius’ conversion (Acts 10).

  • Identify the strengths exhibited by Peter.
  • Identify the strengths exhibited by Cornelius
  • How did God use this team to build the early church?

Discover your strengths when you take the Leading From Your Strengths profile.

More Insights About Strengths

Teams: Task-Oriented or People-Oriented? God Uses Both on Teams

Conflict: Use Your Adapted Strengths to Resolve Conflict

Conflict: It Can Lead to Multiplication

Conflict: Must Two Similar Personalities Always Lead to Conflict?

Conflict: Diffuse Jealousy By Blending Strengths

Change the Way You Think, Part 2

Change the Way You Think, Part 1

Parenting Insight: What’s Your True Parenting Insurance Policy?

Do You Know Your Strengths … Or Are You Just a Know-It-All?

Renewing Your Mind Means Choosing With Your Head

Changing Your Heart Means Giving God Access

Using Your Hands Means More than “Just Do It”

Strengths Are Given In the Image of God