Remember this, it’s about passing it on.
You are in a very significant role, God has entrusted people to you. The challenge is to become someone who doesn’t hold on to things, but what God pours into us we pour out to others.
2 Timothy 2:2:
“So … throw yourself into this work for Christ. Pass on what you heard from me – the whole congregation saying Amen! – to reliable leaders who are competent to teach others.”
The passage starts with a connector, the word “so”. Paul is saying for Timothy to follow his example and to pass it on to others.
Matthew 4:12-5:12. This is a precedence sharing gospel story, with three themes to explore this morning:
- Develop leaders
- Build team
- Turn intention into habit
When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions.” Matthew 5:1-2
This is at the start of Jesus’ ministry, he hears that John his cousin has been arrested and is likely to lose his life. He is preaching, signs and wonders are taking place. Many, many people are being released. He is so effective, and his reputation in a short time spreads around Israel. The crowd are eating out of his hands, following him around, wanting to engage with him and be a part of the process. Then we read this. Something incredible happened. When he saw the crowds, he climbed the hillside and taught his disciples. What would you do if something you were doing was drawing incredible attention from others, all the TV channels want to turn up, receiving a phone call from Oprah, imagine if the Kardashians give you a call – they want to raise money for your charity, your favourite blog/newspaper wants to do a feature on you, Spielberg wants to do a movie on your life. What would you do? How would you respond? There’s a lot of pressure. Turning it down would be like winning XFactor and then saying I’ve decided to give up singing.
Jesus finds himself in a situation where he is suddenly in great demand. People want to hear from him, he is drawing huge crowds. He climbs a hillside, and teaches his climbing companions. Jesus’ prioritises the task of developing leaders. He took time to develop those who were right under his nose. The Great Commission is clear for the mission, the problem with the prospect of growth or pressure is it is easy to lose sight of what you’re trying to do, why you’re doing it and what you want it to look. Make disciples of all nations, not youth groups. With the whole world to save you’d have thought Jesus would have contacted as many people as possible and converted as many people as possible. But something else happens here. Rather than rushing out, instead he begins to pause, turn away from the crowds, and instead teaches and develops those who are committed to him. He does this at the beginning as Jesus practices what he preaches, making disciples, the baseline of his work. These were going to be the ones who would continue his work. He was modelling the commission to them. Jesus doesn’t seek to meet the needs of the world or even the community.
At the pool of Bethseda there was a rumour that an angel will stir the waters, and whoever gets first into the waters is healed. Jesus spoke to one man who explained he’d been waiting for thirty years. Jesus told him to get up and take his mat. He then did something we find really difficult, he walked away, leaving all the other poor and sick people.
One of the challenges in leadership is to be counter-intuitive. Sometimes when the pressure is on and the thing you don’t feel you have time to do is the thing to do. He could only do this because he made time.
Build capacity – disciple/teach
He appointed 12 that they might be with him, and send them out to preach. That takes time, time you can’t wait for or hope for, but time you have to make.
Lay a foundation in them and with them
Have no building skills, but they plan a house, dig a big hole, fill it, and then build on it. No one sees that foundation. But that’s what keeps the building upright in the storms. Jesus was strategic in investing his life in these 12 disciples. It is such a temptation in leadership to find yourself stretching in every direction, and yet the real challenge is being counter-intuitive to build up those who are closest to you, under your nose. Start off with this, don’t end with it. By all means speak to crowds but make sure you disciple a few.
Be together, make time, mutual commitment
Make time, as a mutual commitment, being together, currently mentor 35 people of whom 15 are formal mentees. We sign an agreement to make sure we commit. Don’t speak at every conference because I say yes to them. I am committed to them, it takes time, energy and effort. It takes all parties to engage – some one has to leave their nets, some one has to leave the comfort of heaven and the crowds.
Clarify, shared vision, course corrections, encouragement, challenges, planning ‘runner’
This was the first time he asked them to make him the organisational factor in their lives. He’s not asking for free time, spare cash or what’s leftover. The real change is making him the organisational principle.
We have to develop leaders not just because there’s a community or church in need. It is a sign that things will get tough. This is just before the Sermon on the Mount. You will get to the end of your rope, when you lose what’s most dear with you.
Jesus is speaking to the converted, they were people of faith, Jews steeped in Jewish tradition. They weren’t religious Pharisees or teachers of the law but they had a default position which he adjusts. The young people you work with come with a history, they have pre-existing beliefs, cultural and sub-cultural expectations, they have a position, and we are to help them re-orient their religious position to Jesus.
Drugs are becoming increasingly decriminalised. Youth work has some big issues on the horizon due to this. Youth worker said he was getting out as soon as he can. Any right leader would jump out of this, sometimes you need to recover the runners, and sometimes you will be the runner.
People are coming from all over, to be with him. But he’s changed the world through others – he doesn’t teach the crowds, he teaches the disciples, he tells stories to the crowds, but explains and invests in the disciples. We should always be prepared to minister to the crowds. But we should not neglect the counter-intuitive, the teaching time. It is a risk worth taking.
There is a story told about a conversation in heaven between the resurrected and the angels. The angels are excited and amazed that God sent his son to earth, to live with humans. One of the angels asks who is going to complete the work. The angel said, you mean Peter who denied you three times, that group who fell asleep when you needed them the most, the group who ran away, the group of tax collectors, fisherman, philosophers. What is plan B? There is no plan B – that is it. That is the same with our young people.
Never problem free
Jesus chose twelve initially from when he went up the mountain – they were a rabble. He even chose Judas, and Judas had a part to play. Sometimes people will challenge our boundaries of leadership, they will frustrate us. They don’t all go on with us but they are there for a reason. They are never problem free.
What does God want me to learn and contribute
Everyone of them has something to contribute to the team and something to learn from everyone else in the room.
Who else is on your team?
Constantly ask who else is on your team. We always arrive at a team context with our entourage – husband, wife, children, a dog who bit them. Sometimes you don’t hear them but their bad day, their entourage, their peer group. Sometimes we need to escort their entourage out of the room.
From groups to teams
Every team is a group but not every group is a team. We hear mainly about the extroverts and the loud ones, but don’t overlook the quiet ones, the ones who many be opposite to you. Been a pastor for 27 years in urban church with people who had rock bottom self-esteem who didn’t believe they could do it. Having to pray and trust if that is who God has entrusted you with, there is leadership in this, so they become the leader they can be, the world changers. This is about them becoming world changers not us.
Turn intention into habit
What are you looking for?
The youth leaders have a strategy called the shoulder tap. They are constantly looking for people who have something to offer, have gifting, have ability, want to serve. We may not know they want to serve. Made my way into ministry as someone shoulder tapped, said you might have something. Imagine if the whole church started tapping each other’s shoulders. Turning intention into habit.
Pray, pray, pray, again
Jesus went up a mountain to pray and pray. One thing we can always do is to pray and ask God who, and then pray for them and keep praying and keep praying through the challenges and difficulties. Some will go on and some won’t.
Acts 2, 3,000 come to faith! That would trial most of us. 120 leaders were just doing what they saw Jesus doing. He raised a group that became a team, and started to put people into groups, households, and some of those groups became teams.
The journey of leadership will take us over many types of terrain, sometimes easy walking, sometimes climbing – which brings me out in a cold sweat! It’s hard work, even for those of you enjoy climbing, you sweat, sometimes it is painful, but it gives you perspective because what you see at the top is so different. That’s why he challenges us to climb higher, the committed climb.
He spent time with them, built them into a team, and sent them out to preach. He did it again and again so that they reproduced it. When we read Paul it’s something he’s seen done, and is passing it onto another generation. That’s the challenge we have.
If you forget everything else, the challenge is to pass it on. Don’t hold onto it, don’t do it all yourself, they’re there for reason, keep passing it on, and if that keeps happening you have a movement.