Wednesday, October 08, 2008
Current Study: People Who Made a Difference
Today’s Topic: Listen To Good Advice
Today’s Scripture: Exodus 18:17-19 Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you.
Seven years ago I was approached by a young man in our church who had an idea. He had obviously been thinking about this idea for some time. As it turned out, the idea was not his, but God’s. He was just the messenger. He told me that he had been thinking about leadership, and how we should be training people for future leadership positions. He commented on how strong the current leadership was, but wondered what would happen if they were suddenly gone. Who would take their places? How would the church continue to move forward?
As he spoke, I thought about my own training for leadership. I wondered how I was ever deemed fit to be promoted to store manager in a major corporation at age 22. I reflected on the training that I had had gone through to earn that respected position. As I thought, he kept speaking. He shared the analogy of war. He had brought a picture he had printed of soldiers sitting in trenches in full armor, preparing to jump up and charge. He said these soldiers would be the next wave. They were ready to make their mark when the call came. Then he said, “The church needs to be preparing the next wave of men for leadership.”
As a result of that conversation, Next Wave was established. It has become a vital part of our ministry, and a passion of my heart. Its purpose is to train men to be ready for leadership. These men make a two year commitment that in some cases, like our present class, turns into three years. They meet every week for prayer, character development, theological teaching, and leadership training. Three years ago we had our first graduates. One of them is a Deacon in our church. One of them is our Youth Pastor. One of them had to drop out of that first class, but is back again and is already taking a leadership role in our men’s ministry. One of them has been a discipleship leader for new believers and currently serves on our building team. Not all of them chose to immediately involve themselves in leadership. Some of them are still growing and maturing, but when the time comes for them to answer the call, they will be ready.
Soon we will have another graduating class. Some of them are already serving in areas of leadership in our church. One is our worship minister. One serves in the worship ministry and leads one of our Connection Groups. One shows a passion for building relationships that will result in people coming to Christ. One is serving the Lord by making sure a person with disabilities is able to get to church on Sunday. One has a true servant’s heart for helping people. All of them are growing, and being prepared to be the next wave of leadership for our church.
Four weeks ago a new group of eight men started their two year commitment. I am excited to see what God is going to do with their lives, and how they will be used to minister to the local church. I am reminded of a quote from Amadeo P. Giannini, the founder of the Bank of America, who said, I leave everything to the young men. You’ve got to give youthful men authority and responsibility if you’re going to build up an organization. Otherwise you’ll always be the boss yourself and you won’t leave anything behind you.
Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, made a difference because he was willing to give advice. He told Moses that he couldn’t do it all alone, and that he needed to select, train and appoint leaders over the people of Israel. Moses needed to delegate responsibility to people who could be trusted to lead. I have come to the conclusion that the single most important role any of us have is to train those who will follow us. Parents are to train their children to carry on the values of God in society. Employers are to train their employees to carry out the goals of the company. Pastors are to train the people of the church to do the work of God. But we who have a tendency, for whatever reason, to be the boss, will have problems. We must learn to train and delegate. That’s the model that God has left for us. C.S. Lewis said, He seems to do nothing of Himself which He can possibly delegate to His creatures. He commands us to do slowly and blunderingly what He could do perfectly and in the twinkling of an eye. Creation seems to be delegation through and through.
So to the young man who reminded me of how I was trained for ministry goes my deepest gratitude. Thank you to the young man whose vision became the reality of Next Wave. He was a graduate of the first class, and is serving the Lord today as a musician in our worship ministry, in addition to being my personal encourager and initiator of great ideas. He was and continues to have the right to be my Jethro. Now I can be confident that I will leave something behind me. I am excited to see how God is going to continue to use John Rieland in leadership at our church. I can only hope that each of you has a Jethro like him, and that you will listen when God sends one to you to give you advice. In fact, maybe you are to be a Jethro to someone else. It will make a difference.