Lifeboats and Lighthouses


I met an interesting man today.

As we spoke, he explained that he and his wife both serve as CASA volunteers. CASA stands for “Court Appointed Special Advocate.” They have been appointed by the court to supervise and monitor foster families.

They visit their homes. They advise the foster parents. They make sure the kids are receiving the care and guidance they need while in foster care.

While we spoke, the man told me a piece of advice their CASA supervisor had given him.

“Remember that we are lighthouses and not lifeboats.”

The foster parents were the lifeboats. They were the ones living with the children, caring for them and taking care of them. As a CASA volunteer, this man and his wife couldn’t be that for all the children. They supervise a number of children in a variety of different foster homes. They simply couldn’t be lifeboats for all of them.

Their job was to be a lighthouse. Their job was to be a light, guiding and helping the foster parents. Their job was to be a beacon, making sure the children were safe.

As a pastor, I can relate.

God could use me as a lifeboat. I could become intimately involved in people’s lives. I could spend hours and even days with them, holding their hands as they face every difficult decision or dark day.

But I cannot be there for all of them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I simply can’t be a lifeboat for everybody.

God has called me to be a lighthouse. My job is to shine the light of God’s love to a variety of different people. My job is to guide them with the light of God’s Word and promises. My job is to help them, support them and show them the way.

Don’t get me wrong. Lifeboats are important too. God maybe hasn’t called you to be a lighthouse. You may not have the gifts or opportunity to influence and guide a large number of people.

God maybe has put one or two people in your life – a friend, a child, a grandchild. You may need to focus most, if not all of your attention on them. God may have called you to be their lifeboat, to be the one person they need to carry them where God wants them to be.

In the end, God uses both lifeboats and lighthouses to help people.

God uses both lifeboats and lighthouses to lead people to Jesus and get them to heaven. But it’s not always easy to figure out which God has called you to be in another person’s life.

Just like with my friend, the CASA volunteer, it is helpful when we can understand what our role is and what is the best way we can serve God and help others.

May God give each of us the wisdom we need every day to know if he is calling us to be lifeboats or lighthouses to the people around us. May he give us the love to joyfully and willingly be what he has called us to be.


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