Jesus Lizards

Written by Burt Braunius /
December 14, 2014

The tour guide said, “In Jamaica we have these lizards called Jesus Lizards. Do you know why we call them that? It’s because they can walk on water.”

Fascinating critters! Their scientific name is basilisk. And actually they run on water at speeds up to 4.9 feet per second. To see one on a YouTube video, click here.

By now you’ve made the connection. The name Jesus Lizard is in reference to Matthew 14: 22-34, where Jesus came to His disciples walking on the water, and where Peter stepped out of the boat and briefly walked with Jesus . The image is of Jesus walking on water in a storm and Peter stepping out in an act of extraordinary faith and courage to walk with Jesus on the water in the storm.

This phrase, “walking on water,” has come to be used as a description of those who perform extraordinary tasks. We say of these individuals, “He/she walks on water.”

Jesus lizards and Matthew 14: 22–34 remind us that leaders are exceptional individuals. They walk on water (figuratively). Leaders are examples to others: They have strong commitments that set the pace for others.

A book that helps me think of the commitment and performance associated with being a Christian leader is If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat by John Ortberg (2001). Here are excerpts from the first chapter.

The chapter begins with a Theodore Roosevelt quote.
“It’s not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena…who, at best knows in the end the triumph of great achievement, and at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly. So that his place will never be with those cold timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.”

The chapter is entitled “On Water-Walking” and contains these headings.
“Water–Walkers recognize God’s presence
Water–Walkers discern between faith and foolishness
Water–Walkers get out of the boat
Water–Walkers expect problems
Water–Walkers accept fear as the price of growth
Water–Walkers master failure management
Water–Walkers see failure as an opportunity to grow
Water–Walkers learn to wait on the Lord
Water–Walking brings a deeper connection with God”

The chapter ends with the following questions.
“What’s your boat? Where is fear or comfort keeping you from trusting God?
In what area do you need discernment to know if you’re really being called to get out of the boat?
What’s one risk you can take in your life that could help your faith to grow?
What’s one failure from your past that haunts you? What trusted friend can you share it with as a step in robbing it of its power?
Where are you in relation to Jesus these days?”

Church Leadership Center is privileged to train stepping-out-of-the boat, walking-on-water leaders… high-commitment and high-performance individuals. We serve churches and other ministry groups to prepare congregational leaders for advanced levels of ministry responsibility. We do this by means of assessment interviews and reports; personalized training plans, classes, and certification so that participants are able to increase their effectiveness in all areas of church life. Click here for more information from our web site and to read previous blogs. To view videos about Commissioned Pastors and those who support them, click here.

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