There is this popular reading of the gospels. Jesus walks around Galilee after confronting evil in the desert. He randomly chooses the most unlikely candidates as his disciples. In fact he chooses the folks least likely to succeed and builds them into a core team. For three years this band of losers follows Jesus around. They get everything wrong. They don’t understand him or his mission. They fail him in his passion. And then, miraculously, after Pentecost they lead a movement destined to change the world.
This is a popular reading. And it’s wrong… or at least distorted.
The truth is that Jesus assembled a team of people who symbolically represented his mission, were willing to take risks, and had relevant skills. Peter is an example of courage and action, a natural leader. James and John were hotheaded enthusiasts. Including a former tax collector and a zealot in his team demonstrated the breath of his mission. Yes, they had a lot to learn. Yes, they made mistakes. But they had (or developed) the skills they needed to carry out Jesus’ mission.
When we give into the popular view we miss a critical leadership lesson. We start, build, and multiply ministry by finding the right people first.
Every time I say this though, I run into resistance. “What do you mean the ‘right’ people?” “Does this mean there are ‘wrong’ people?” “Isn’t that elitist and discriminatory?”
No it isn’t. Our ministry is for everyone. Saying we need to find the right people simply means that we can and should expand ministry by finding people who represent our mission, are willing to risk, and have relevant skills.
Consider your leadership team.
Does it represent the mission field you’re trying to reach? Is the team sufficiently diverse to engage the ministry opportunity? (I once sat with a team of engineers who couldn’t understand why all of their efforts to reach artists were not successful.)
Will they risk? How willing is your team to take risks and try new things? What is the courage quotient on your team?
Are they leaders? Leaders (whether natural or formed) have followers. Who is following the leaders on your team? How do you know? Can the leaders list the names of the people who are following their example or lead in mission?
Who are the people you need to start, build, and multiply your mission on campus?