Prevailing and Dominant Winds (Newsletter 2-5 Blog)


By Jacob Paul Stump

There are two primary types of wind that move across a region: prevailing winds and dominant winds. The prevailing wind is the general direction that wind moves over a region. Jr is gentle and constant. Prevailing winds affect weather patterns and soil erosion, and are the most frequent type of wind in an area.

Dominant winds are the strongest winds in an area at a given time. They are less frequent but move with greater force. They are the results of pressure systems and can be affected by buildings and landscapes. Dominant winds, though stronger in force, are temporary and change directions frequently. Prevailing winds are often overpowered by dominant winds.

Sailors account for both types of wind. Courses are charted based upon prevailing winds while sails are adjusted in response to dominant winds.

In life and in ministry, we face both prevailing and dominant winds. It is critical that we recognize the difference between the two. Prevailing winds are the long term constants by which courses are charted and directions are maintained. Like a sailor, we do not travel into a prevailing wind. It is far better to change our latitude so that we can capture the appropriate prevailing wind for our destination, We do not sail against the constants; we must change to capture them — or should I say, be captured by them.

But during our journey, dominant winds will also come. They are as forceful as they are temporary. They demand our attention but they do not dictate our direction. Minor adjustments must be made to our sails in order to maintain the course but we cannot base long-term decisions on dominant winds.

It is an unwise sailor who changes course in response to a dominant wind. Following dominant winds will allow your speed to increase and your level of effort to decrease, but, at best, you will be traveling faster in the wrong direction.

Paul said only a child is foolish enough to follow every wind: “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive” (Ephesians 4:14). Dominant winds are favorable only to the sailor who has no destination.

In the church there are prevailing winds and dominant winds. Truth is a prevailing wind. The principle of holiness is a prevailing wind. Love is a prevailing wind, Lives, churches, and ministries must be charted in response to these winds; they are worthy of a latitude change. Only by following these winds are we guaranteed a safe arrival at our destination.

We will also face the dominant winds of culture, demographic changes, and political realities. We also must adjust in response to these winds. But we must be certain that the purpose of any adjustment is to maintain our direction, not to change it. Adjust your sail, not your rudder.

Somewhere beneath those dominant winds there is a gentle prevailing wind still blowing.