The Security of Deeper Waters

by John Rue

Sounds like a contradiction. Deeper waters seem scary – we might lose control and go under.

So we live in the shallows, work in the shallows, play in the shallows…and drown in the shallows.

It’s counter-intuitive but shallow waters have bigger storms, bigger waves, and bigger consequences. When tsunamis come, it’s the shallow coastal waters that experience the most destruction — they barely cause a ripple in the deep waters. When hurricanes come, seasoned sailors untie their boats and head out to sea where they won’t be dashed on the rocks.

Worldviews are like waters…and most of us live in the shallows of false hope & false security. To guard against the threat of storms, we expend countless time & energy piling sandbags and building dikes “just in case.” What is “enough” produces besetting neuroticism that robs us of peace, joy and adventure. Because when the big storm finally comes, as it always does, nothing holds it back.

The answer? Stop asking “how to survive in the shallows” and develop a deeper worldview. You don’t HAVE to live in the shallows. Most of us live in a shallow worldview because we don’t LIKE thinking about a deeper worldview. It’s hard work, there can be pain involved, and it’s kind of scary. Maybe what’s scariest about it is the very idea that we’d actually NEED it. It’s easier to live in denial, in false harmony, in idealism, in the diversion of the moment — than reality. To think that those bad things in life only happen to other people and companies. To bad people and companies. To unlucky people and companies. That’s called mythical thinking. It’s easier, but it’s shallow.

My partner Chet Scott and I believe if there was just one thing we could tell our clients, it would be this — develop a deeper worldview, and SOONER. Having the gift of time three years ago to slow down in a Florida hospital room reflecting on life with my 80-year-old dad, I became even more convinced. 25 years ago my Dad and I lived in a shallow worldview where 3-yr old sons of responsible parents didn’t just die in their sleep…but they do. My dad Jack had the horrific job of finding my lifeless son Jack and having to give me the news. We were jolted into re-examining our answers to questions like:

What is most important in life?

Does God exist? If so, what kind of God is he? Why does evil exist?

Is there a heaven? Are there really no more tears there?

What is worth spending time on?

What do I say yes to? What do I say no to? And why?

What role does $$ play in life?

What would you regret most if one of your loved ones died tonight?

What would you regret most if you died tonight?

How do I set priorities?

What do I believe about what the world says about happiness? About significance?

A shallow worldview causes a shallow life. Don’t wait for a tragedy to cultivate a deeper worldview. Part of the role fellow builders can play is to be the “tow boat” to help you enter the deeper waters of meaning and purpose in life, and to help you build a deeper keel, the part of the boat below the surface which keeps it stable and upright. At the crossroads of my life, Chet helped me figure out my faith and gain the spiritual buoyancy to weather the worst storms. As I learned God’s Word, I learned Jesus sees things differently than the world.   He asks deeper questions, and He has deeper answers. The deeper I get to know Jesus, the deeper the keel of my worldview becomes (or rather, my Word-view — which is one huge ‘L of a difference)

I used to ask, “Why did my son die?”   Now I’m living out a legacy, which helps answer a better question, “Why did he live?”

My Dad is now 84 and living out the “good” that arose from his developing a deeper worldview…four grateful sons and daughters adopted from Guatemala who got a chance in America they otherwise wouldn’t have. 18 years ago my dad sold his boat, didn’t buy a plane and decided to do something better.   He’s investing in the next generation.


johnrueJohn Rue spent 15 years in Corporate America and 10 years as a full-time pastor. In 2008 he joined Built To Lead to help leaders become stronger believers and master connectors. He helps leaders & teams relate to why they live and work, who they are, and how to fully engage with clarity and alignment in work and life. John and Connie have been married 33 years and have two grown children. Every Wednesday 7am, John facilitates a gathering of 40-60 men of all ages from over twenty churches to practice building their Worldviews deeper. To learn more contact John at


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