Last week we started looking scriptures that are so challenging that we are often tempted to ignore them. I want to continue this journey by looking at how Jesus directly challenges our typical view of leadership. Leadership has become a huge deal in North American culture. Research has shown that American organizations (businesses, churches, schools, etc.) spend over 24.5 BILLION dollars a year on leadership development. Yet, despite spending all this money, a lack of Christian leaders continues to be one of the chief laments I hear from pastors and churches. Today I want us to examine a challenging verse that lays out part of Jesus’ view of leadership.
And he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in their belts— but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics. And he said to them, “Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you depart from there. And if any place will not receive you and they will not listen to you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent. And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them. Mark 6:7-13
Notice a major thing Jesus did in this passage. He EMPOWERED his disciples. He trained them, gave them authority, and then empowered them to go out and serve others. Is this a model that we are using in our own lives and in our churches?
I love a metaphor Pastor Scott Wilson uses in his book Ready, Set, Grow. Imagine being tasked with teaching everyone in your life to dunk a basketball. The reality is that the vast majority of them will simply lack the physical abilities to do so, which leaves you with two options. First, you can lower the hoop. While this may prove fun for a while, it really does not help matters. It simply lowers the bar/goal. This is what we do far too often. We lower our expectations for ourselves, our church, and others, setting incredibly low goals simply because they are easier to accomplish.
The second option is you can build stairs towards the hoop, making it easier for others to reach it. Wilson uses this illustration to make that point that all of us need to be building stairs to help others succeed as leaders and servants. We do this when, like Jesus, we take the time to instruct, encourage, and empower others. We build stairs when we sit down and teach our children Scripture, invite them to serve with us, and empower them with certain tasks. We do the same in the Church when instead of simply doing everything ourselves we take the time to invest in training and empowering others.
Who do you need to be empowering in your life? Who needs some stairs built in order for them to become a powerful leader and servant of Christ Jesus?