2 fish

I have been reading books on teamwork & leadership, and it’s been very helpful. But still they made me a bit uncomfortable. Please don’t get me wrong, I agree with most of the things these books are talking about, and I am endeavoring to implement them in my own life & ministry.

Nevertheless, what makes me want to write about this is that it seems like ultimately what matters the most are the numbers, achievement & competence.

I could see why one of the books was the NY Times best seller.

There is an idea that seems to be in trend in modern churches right now that I believe it to be unbiblical. It is this idea of excellence. I’ve seen churches in pursuit of excellence actually hiring & using non-believing musicians in their worship. I don’t know about that.

What the Bible talks about isn’t excellence because it’s impossible to achieve it on our own. If we go that route of pursuing excellence, then not only do we have to assess our performance, we have to examine the condition of our hearts as well. We cannot be selective in where we apply it. My point is the standards for excellence are all in our minds. No matter how excellent we may think something is, it will never be perfect.

I believe this is what God teaches & desires. What He desires from us isn’t excellence, but OUR BEST. There is a big difference. God calls us to offer & lay down our best. Of course our best may not add up to a lot compared to what someone else may bring, but God will take & will be honored by 2 copper coins of a poor widow any day (Luke 21:2-4).

I’m saddened by the fact that even in missions, work & behavior of missionaries are affected by the numbers game. I cannot blame them because missionaries have to show their supporting churches & denominations that they are making expected progress or lose their support. I know that certain denominational missionaries have to periodically report how many baptisms they had and sometimes those numbers may be exaggerated. It is easier to raise funds for a building project than for spiritual development of a future spiritual leader because the former brings quicker payoff and tangible results.

Jesus Christ only took on 12 core disciples, and one of them didn’t even make it. Not only that, this process of developing His disciples into spiritual leaders took 2-1/2 or 3 years. I wonder what people & churches would say if we were only able to train & raise 11 servants after 3 years? They will probably give us books on leadership or church growth.

I believe that Jesus invested His time & energy & focused on those 12 men because before we can build anything of worth & something that will last, the foundation has to be solid & strong. And to build a solid foundation in churches, in businesses, in families & missions, we must invest ourselves in individual lives.

It is much more than teaching them what to do, and even inspiring them at key moments. What will truly influence human hearts for the long haul is whether YOU ARE EXEMPLIFYING WHAT YOU ARE PREACHING IN YOUR LIFE.

The truth, even God’s truth that isn’t lived has no power. The opposite is also true. No matter how simple the truth, when we put our trust in it & live it, that is when hearts will be impacted.

Among all the disciples of Jesus, I have always liked Andrew. He’s the quiet one. He’s the one who’s always in the background and in the shadow of his outspoken brother Peter. In other words, he probably didn’t have many of the traits of a leader.

But what Andrew lacked in external traits, he more than made up with his belief in Jesus & in his actions. He was a man who quietly lived out his faith. It was Andrew who first led Peter to Christ.

Even in John 6:1-15, the feeding of the 5,000, we see Andrew living out his faith in Jesus because it was Andrew who brought the boy who had 5 barley loaves of bread & 2 small fish.

But why is that so significant?

Let me explain. If you try to take anything away from a little kid like his toy or candy, in this case, his lunch, you are not going to succeed. Just try it. The only way that a kid would give up his lunch is if he knows & trusts the person who is asking or because he is offered something far better. What I am trying to say is that Andrew already knew the little boy in the story. Maybe they knew each other before or probably Andrew got to know him that very day. Either way, while the other 11 disciples were competing for the spot next to Jesus to show their importance or leadership roles, Andrew was with a child that no one really paid attention to simply because Andrew cared about every person, especially those who are marginalized.

I can just picture Andrew joking around with the kid, laughing together. Then when he heard about Jesus’ call to the disciples to feed the crowd, he said to the little boy, “Do you want to see something amazing? My Master can do miraculous things! I’ve witnessed them many times. Let’s take what you have to Him to see what He will do.”

And the rest is history.

I am certain that little boy never forgot about that day where Jesus took his humble lunch & fed the 5,000 plus people. I am also certain that he told that story over & over to his own children, his grandchildren & everyone else he met saying, “When I was boy, I met a kind man named Andrew who led me to Jesus who took what I had for lunch to feed the thousands for He was the Son of God!”

Something so miraculous & grand from something so mundane & humble in nature as a man taking the time to care about & talk to a little boy about his Teacher.

I suspect that much of missions work will be like that. Building relationships, caring about the people, exemplifying God’s truth in our daily life & leading them to the One who will make a difference in their lives, and I am certain that the fruit Jesus brings will resonate throughout eternity.