““Everything is permissible for me”, but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me”, but I will not be mastered by anything.” These words from 1 Corinthians 6:12 are the heartbeat behind Burn The Ship. Because although you may not be slave to a major addiction, though your actions might all be legal, and even if nothing you are doing is frowned upon by our culture (or even your community) does not mean that all you do or think is beneficial to you, or to others.
And maybe you are fighting an addiction to alcohol, pornography, self-harm, drugs, sex, whatever it may be- and we are definitely here for you. But maybe your struggle is more a matter of the heart or mind, and is harder to identify from the outside. Honestly, those issues can be just as hard to work through and burn, because they may not be apparent to the people around you, or even to you! We believe that anyone that still has breath in their lungs can be further refined, not matter how good or wise or successful they are. We want to encourage you to do the hard work of self-reflection, to ask yourself “what in my life is not beneficial?” and “what has mastered me?”
As we’ve said in previous posts, not all of our ships are inherently bad. Your ship could be workaholism- work is inherently good, but the idol it’s morphed into in your life is not. I was talking to a friend lately whose ship had been training and exercise; again, those things are usually considered good, but are no longer beneficial when they consume or define you. Many these days are mastered by social media- the amount of likes, comments, or views you get on Instagram or Twitter can make or break your day, or even affect your view of your self-worth.
In the Bible study I recently went through with my church, Matt Chandler’s “Stirs and Steals List” was mentioned. (Sidenote: Matt Chandler is a gifted pastor and author near Dallas, Texas- check him out if you haven’t!) If you’re having a hard time answering the question, “what in my life is not beneficial?”, the stirs and steals list is another way to think about this, and works whether you are a believer or not! If you are a believer in Christ, ask yourself “what stirs my affections for Jesus?” and “what steals my affections for Jesus?” If you are not a believer, ask yourself “what gets/keeps me on a straight path in life?” and “what causes me to hit potholes and trip up in my life?”
The things on the “stirs/straight path” side of the list are ones that we should aim to keep and grow in our lives, while whatever is on the “steals/potholes” side are things that we should seek to work on or eliminate from our life- ships, if you will. For me, time spent alone in devotions and prayer, and time spent with good community are things that stir my affection for Christ and keep me on a straight path. Additionally, I’ve found that service in my community and missions trips keep me focused on what’s important, and remind me of all I have to be grateful for. On the other hand, too much time spent watching TV or on social media, or filling up my schedule to the point of extreme busyness, are steals for me. They distract and divert my focus to me, instead of towards God and others.
Your “steals/stirs” are most likely different than mine (and I have plenty more), so I encourage you to reflect, and hopefully write down your own list. Simply recognizing a ship in our life is a huge step towards burning it. Hebrews 12:1 says “Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us.” Again, some of our ships are straight up bad: sins that entangle and enslave us. But some of our ships start as good (or at least neutral) thoughts, actions, or habits, but turn in to a hindrance that we must leave behind. And no matter where you are at in life- how old or young, foolish or wise, in a position of authority or not- there are people watching what you do. And your ship-burning journey could be what inspires them to take the first step of theirs.
So together, let’s burn the things in our lives that have mastered us, or are simply not beneficial. And remember, this is not about a list of things that you can and cannot do, or trying to earn favor with God or man. This is about living a life of joy and freedom by eliminating whatever is holding us back from the best that God has for us.