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Build a better boat

I admit it: I prefer country music to most other genres. 

I’ll also admit that some of it is pretty, well, bad. Lots of loving and leaving songs, and it seems every significant country artist at some point feels the need to write a song about a tractor. 

(Nothing against farmers or tractors. I’m impressed by and appreciative of both. My wife’s grandfather farmed 1,400 acres on the Colorado River in central Texas to make a life for his family. Not an easy path by any measure.)

What I like most about country music is how it relates the reality of our lives in authentic ways. 

Fifteen years ago, my then-teenage daughter developed a great interest in Kenny Chesney. We watched her joy as we hosted her and a friend for his Dallas concert when she turned fourteen. We sat a section away so as not to cramp their joy. 

And yes, we all sang loud and proud when he sang his tractor song.

This past weekend, I caught this chorus again from Chesney’s song about recovery called “Better Boat”:

I breathe in, I breathe out

Got friends to call who let me talk about

What ain’t working, what’s still hurtin’

All the things I feel like cussing out

Now and then I let it go

Around the waves I can’t control

I’m learning how to build a better boat

To me, those words express where many pastors, ministers, and church leaders are nearly two years into Covid and the other life-altering upheavals we’ve experienced. 

My “better boat” prayer for you

I’ve talked to several pastors in recent weeks. The tone of every conversation seems consistent: they are experiencing spiritual and mental fatigue, some confusion, and an unsettled uncertainty about the future of their work. 

All seem to long for God to move in our generation in a massive way. ​​

Most of us have some “things we feel like cussing out.”

As Chesney reminds us, we don’t control nearly as much as we thought we did or would like to. Our prayers, conversations, choices, and actions do matter. They have impact—some we see and much we won’t see until eternity unfolds. 

We are “co-laborers with God” (1 Corinthians 3). But still, we wonder if what we’ve given our lives to is really helping. More than ever, all pastors are asking God to help them and their teams to build better boats of grace and relevant, redeeming ministry that God can use to revive the church and spiritually awaken the lost. 

Part of my “better boat” prayer for you and me comes from Moses in Psalm 90:17 NIV,

“May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands.”

So, during this Thanksgiving week, “breathe in, breathe out” and call one or two those friends who will let you talk about “what ain’t working, what’s still hurtin’.” I think there will be healing and hope in those talks. 

If you don’t have a safe harbor person, pray and ask God to give you the name of one person you can call today to start a new friendship. You never know: the next person you talk to could be your next, best, lifelong friend and fellow boat maker.