Lifeboat Theory

Right now, I’m reading Searching for God Knows What by Donald Miller. Of many different things discussed in the book, Miller talks about how our society functions. He talks about what aliens would say about us if they looked down on earth to how we interact with each other. One theory Miller discusses is the Lifeboat Theory.

Imagine there is a lifeboat with 5 people. There is a male lawyer, a female doctor, a crippled child, a stay-at-home mom, and a garbageman. One person must be thrown overboard in order to save the others. Who do you choose to throw overboard?

In this scenario, we can go through and try to come up with reasons to keep one person and throw overboard another. While deciding, we are quick to choose who has value and who doesn’t. We are quick to decide who is worth keeping around, who is the most intelligent, attractive, wealthy, right, or skinny.

This theory is not far from how we live our lives. Our personalities are built so that other people will want to keep us in the boat. We build our personalities in a way that other people will like. If we find out that the other people in the boat like someone better than us, it makes us mad and upset. We want people to value us and keeps us in their networks or circle of friends.

I get caught up in people-pleasing just as much as anyone; I want other people to like me and I want to be accepted by the people around me because I want to stay in the “boat.” My personality is shaped by a desire for others to see value in me.

We are called to a greater life than that in the boat. You are not defined by Lifeboat Theory.

Your value does not come from what other people say. Even when you feel validated and affirmed by the other people in the boat, it doesn’t give you ultimate satisfaction. The positive opinions of others will never give you the fulfillment you crave; you will always want more. You are so much more than what other people say. You are more valuable than a puppet, guided by society’s standards, trying to survive in a crowded lifeboat.

Challenge for the week: Do not worry about living with a facad to stay in the boat. You are valued, seen, and loved.

I appreciate you.



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