Favoring Effective Ministry Over Expediency – The Jesus Model

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In ministry it seems the responsibilities pile up and rarely does it go the other way around. I sometimes wonder in my own ministry if I am involved in too much. It is so hard to focus on what is most important when you have things that have to get done and often it seems most expedient to just do them yourself. What ends up happening is that you take these things on indefinitely with no exit strategy. What is worse, no one is equipped to carry these things on in the future. Honestly, maybe some of those things aren’t worth carrying on or else we would be passionate about finding long term solutions. In other words, we hate passing things on to others that we don’t really think are worthwhile in the first place…and yet we personally busy ourselves with those same things!

I wonder what would happen if I spent more time equipping and less time “getting stuff done”. I wonder what would happen if I spent more time ministering with people and less time ministering to people. You worry that if you neglect the crowd for the sake of the few that you will become too exclusive or that you will hurt people’s feelings and so you spread yourself too thin. If I take a good honest look at the ministry of Jesus I can see that he valued his time equipping the few over the fanfare of the crowd. He didn’t worry about what people thought in the moment. He didn’t do it because it was the expedient way to get his message to the masses. Preaching for months straight outside the temple in Jerusalem would have gained him a huge audience. He didn’t do that. The model of equipping ministry and discipling he did do was done because that would most effectively spread the kingdom in the years, decades and centuries to come. Do I really think I am smarter or better at ministry than Jesus or am I just staying busy and expedient?

12 Responses

  1. Man, that makes a ton of sense!

    But, just think about how much “bigger” Jesus’ pre-church church woulda been had he opted to preach outside the temple for 3 years straight. Rather than go around spending so much time with a mere one or few at a time.

    I’m reminded again of Joel’s good sermon this week. Rather than preaching to Zacchaeus along with the gathered masses, Jesus spent his time that day instead with one person who needed and wanted him.

    A good lesson for us all to ponder. Sometimes, less really is more.

    1. pre-church church…love it 🙂
      The ultimate result of spending more time with less is that you can really help those few people really embrace following Jesus and equip them to teach others the same. That has a multiplying effect that takes a few iterations before you see the growth. We feel like we are stifling growth because the growth is not immediate…problem is immediate growth can be shallow. But if you go about this as Jesus did you can have sustainable, deep growth over the long haul.

      Part of our problem is we don’t want to spend the time doing this. We have too many other things going on to meaningfully embrace this as a model of ministry. Maybe it is time some other things got out of the way.

  2. Too, surely many were hurt and likely offended at the decisions Jesus made in spending time with some individual(s) at the expense of not being able to spend personal time with others. I mean, even being God in the flesh, there was still only one of him to go around…

    1. And this is the reason He told His disciples it would be better for them if He went away. His going meant the coming of the Spirit and His own presence with all of us until the world is no more!

    1. Kurt,
      Matt has been working up to this over his posts in the recent months. He has a growing sense of what ministry and leadership are all about – and it’s not about preaching sermons on Sunday but about getting into the lives and hearts of people. It’s about equipping others for the ministry of caring for others as Jesus does. Leadership Training is not about teaching men how to conduct a worship service. It’s about teaching them to worship God because they love Him, and this means serving others as Jesus did.

    2. Thanks Kurt. I really appreciate that. Easy to think about it. Harder to break out of ministry as we know it and actually do it. Taking baby steps.

    3. Yes. It’s always easier to write about what to do, than it is to do it. The reason this struck a chord with me is because of all the mistakes I made in this area while leading in the fire service. But by you writing about it, it sort of gives permission to your readers to do it, in spite of the cost.

      This is my favorite post from Matt Dabbs (so far).

      May the Lord richly bless your efforts to emulate Christ in your ministry.

  3. Right on. However, remember you also have family responsibilities – which Jesus didn’t have. Too often significant leaders have neglected their families. Keeping a balance is essential.

    1. Richard…that is a huge balance issue that is a constant struggle. I am determined to look back and see that ministry did not burn my children and their budding faith. If I see that happening something will have to change drastically. Win the world, lose your family is not an option.

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