Wave Analysis – Aligning our activity with God’s

What is a wave?

For the purpose of this model a wave something that God is doing.  Rick Warren, in Purpose-Driven Church, points out that we are at our most effective when we find out what God is doing and get involved.  The analogy that he uses is that of surfing.  A surfer knows very well that making waves is not really possible.  There are either waves, or there are not waves.

What is a surfer?

Following the analogy, we are the surfers, and therefore surfing is representative of human activity.  Since a surfer cannot make waves, the best option is to look and see what is happening.  If there are waves, then go and surf.  If there aren’t any waves, stay at home.

What is ‘Wave analysis’?

Wave analysis is the term I have coined for reviewing God’s activity compared to ours in various areas of our life or ministry.  In order to perform a ‘wave analysis’ we need to stand back and honestly review what we see God doing and what we see ourselves doing.  This could apply to our own lives, the teams or organisations we lead.  Using the diagram below, four areas can be identified:

Quadrant 1 – No wave, no surfer

The things falling into this section have no activity associated with them.  God is not doing anything here, but neither are we.

Quadrant 2 – No wave, but a surfer

Here is where we find a mismatch.  Like in quadrant one, God is not doing anything much.  However, we are active.  This is likely because we have begun to pursue a good idea, without checking if it is a ‘God idea’.  Another possibility is that God was once active in this area of our lives or organisation, but the season has changed and He has moved on, but we have stayed (a move from quadrant four to 2).  Clearly, this is a problem area; we are putting energy into something that God is not blessing and so it is time to stop.

Quadrant 3 – Wave, but no surfer

This section represents another mismatch, this time in the opposite direction.  Here we find things that God is doing, but we are not joining with him.  As before, this could be for two reasons.  The first is our disobedience.  That is we have seen His activity, but refused to get involved.  The second, is again related to a season change.  God could be doing a new thing (a move from quadrant one to three) and having perceived it, we need to begin to consider our response, which will probably involve doing something new.

Quadrant 4 – Wave, surfer

In this last section we are back to a ‘match’.  The items here have both God’s activity and our partnering with it.  No change is required here.


Wave Analysis is a really useful tool for us as leaders since it helps us to make sure that we are operating in partnership with God and not irrespective of His activity in the world.  It is something we need to do repeatedly or else we can find ourselves out of step.

Please share your reflections and experiences in the comments below.

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