So far we have looked at two stories (here and here) in Mark 9 where we learned that Jesus used the shortcomings of his disciples to help them learn and grow through those mistakes. Now we are going to back up to the beginning of the chapter and look at another piece of how Jesus helped disciple these guys. We are going to examine how Jesus delegated responsibility to them even though they were going to mess it all up and how Jesus picked up the pieces and helped them grow.In Mark 9:1-13 we have the transfiguration. What we find out in Mark 9:14 is that when Jesus, Peter, James and John went up the mountain to experience that, Jesus left the other disciples behind to take care of things at the bottom of the mountain. When the four returned they didn’t find things going so well. A man had brought his son to be healed of an evil spirit but the disciples had failed to cast it out.
On a side note, I just find the scene described in 9:20-25 really strange. Jesus goes to see the boy, the spirit convulses him and you might expect Jesus to cast it out right then…it sounds like a pretty bad episode this boy is going through. Instead Jesus asks, “How long has he been like this?” The whole conversation that follows when read in just text and not actually standing there witnessing it really sounds pretty casual given the circumstances. But the point was, just like Jesus didn’t need to know how long Lazarus had been dead because he already knew…his question was not for his own information. His question was for those who were listening. The point was Jesus’ miracle was all the greater because this boy had suffered with this not just a day or two but since he was a small child.
Jesus had given them responsibility and they had failed. Don’t you think Jesus knew this was going to happen when he left them behind? But notice that didn’t keep him from doing it anyway. Sometimes those in leadership positions don’t delegate because they fear someone will mess things up. The problem is the one delegating often gets more focused on the task to be done and done right than the person they can grow and develop by giving them responsibility. Which is more important to kingdom priorities…flawlessly performed ministries (which paid staff can’t do either) or people growing in their faith because they had responsibility delegated to them?
One of the problems many churches face is that the face of involvement is limited to what one can do one hour a week on Sunday morning. That is thinking too small. If all the church accomplishes or all we offer for people to plug into is leading a prayer, presiding over the Lord’s supper, ushering people into seats or reading scripture on Sunday we have missed the point. This involvement crisis can be seen when people place membership. Here at Northwest we have a sheet of things people can do and the vast majority of those take place on Sunday. That communicates something and it may not be healthy. It is not out of evil intent or anything like that…it just doesn’t take into consideration the bigger picture of what we are saying discipleship and involvement are all about.
Our young people today want to make a difference. If we are going to grow and our young people grow we have to hand some things over to them and accept the fact that things won’t always go perfectly. If we are honest with ourselves we would recognize they don’t go perfectly when we do them either! If Jesus was willing to delegate, accept failure, and teach them through it all we can and should as well. One thing that makes this hard is the cultural gap. The culture of the leadership and the culture of our 20 somethings is very, very different.It is hard to delegate responsibility to someone you don’t understand. So we have to get to know each other. It is important that the generations have venues to spend time with each other. I am big about creating an healthy environment for our 20 somethings where they can discuss topics relevant to their position in life but we also need to recognize their need to be rubbing shoulders with Christians older and more experienced than they are so they can learn and grow.