As a leader, how many times have you enthusiastically started a new project, excited about its prospects? Eager to begin, you call together your leadership teams, make plans and set the project in motion. But one thing lacks…you’ve forgotten to answer the questions that need answering.
Starting new ventures is great for creating momentum in the church; however, before you begin you must ask yourself and your team leaders if the project is sustainable in the long run. In other words, can you finish what you start? What’s more, if the right people aren’t in place to make it happen, it is more beneficial to refrain from starting until you have the appropriate people trained to take on the new project.
The Leadership of Jesus
In everything Jesus is our example, and momentum in leadership is no exception. Jesus looked ahead. His death, burial, resurrection and ascension into heaven were just a few short years away. In order for the church to succeed without Him, He trained and positioned the right people in the right place, ready to carry on His ministry after His ascension.
Often times Jesus said, “My hour is not yet come,” or “It is not yet my time.” He walked in sync with God’s will and timing, cognizant of the preparation needed to complete His earthly tasks. And He made sure His disciples were equipped to continue His ministry after He left this earth.
The Lord is the finest example of leadership we will ever hope to have. His calling and training of the twelve disciples is a model of perfect leadership in ministry. Through Jesus’ leadership style, we can gain a sense of what it takes to create momentum in our ministries. The momentum Jesus created with His twelve disciples still moves forward today, 2000 years later.
By the time Jesus began His ministry and summoned the twelve disciples in Matthew 10, He was halfway into His ministry. That meant that Jesus had approximately two years to train twelve men to carry on the work that He had started just months prior to their calling.
Jesus’ ministry had two phases. In the first portion of His ministry He labored single-handedly for over a year. His miracles and teachings were, for the most part, limited to the area of Galilee. As Jesus gained followers it became clear that He would travel greater distances to reach and teach greater numbers of people. This large group would be unable to follow Jesus wherever He went, especially over the long journeys that became part of His later ministry.
Jesus needed a certain few with Him at all times. He needed to reproduce Himself in a group of willing and faithful men who would be able to carry on His ministry to the world. Thus, Jesus called the twelve disciples.
For the final two years of His life Jesus focused on these men. The crowds grew to greater numbers than before. Jesus would still perform miracles but if the momentum was to continue, He had to direct His passion toward these twelve ordinary men. For several years Jesus trained simple and common people: Fishermen, carpenters, a tax-collector, a zealot and tradesmen. They were all as ordinary as you and I.
How did Jesus select these twelve men? First and foremost, He prayed. In fact, the Bible records that Jesus continued in prayer all night long.
For over a year, Jesus was familiar with the men He would call. Jesus prayed for these men’s souls, their futures, their safety, their understanding and their faith. He prayed for them to develop spiritually into an unstoppable force that would impact the world. We know from Scripture that what Jesus prayed for came to fruition.
Jesus faced controversy from the very beginning of His ministry. His own community literally tried to kill Him after He taught in the local synagogue. Shortly after this, He became popular among the people in the region of Galilee. As the word spread of His teachings and His miracles, huge crowds of people flocked to see and hear Him. The crowds grew so large that He would occasionally teach from a boat on the Sea of Galilee just to get away from the press of people.
Jesus was no doubt the most popular figure who existed in this region at that time. What’s worth noting though, is that Jesus did nothing to use His popularity to advance His cause or gain momentum. In fact, He did the opposite.
Imagine the crowds He could have drawn had He concentrated on marketing His Name? What would have happened had He conceded to some of the religious leaders’ demands? But none of that interested Jesus.
Jesus was controversial for sure. At times, His teachings and messages were so offensive that almost everyone left Him except His faithful few.
Only the twelve simple men stayed with Jesus after everyone else left. It was then that Jesus chose these twelve to mentor, train and disciple over the next two years.
Training the Twelve
By now, Jesus’ ministry had reached a point of no return. The religious leaders of the day made up their minds to kill Him and make an example of Him. The hunt was on and time was short. Wherever Jesus went He worked quickly, getting in and out before He was discovered. The crucifixion was only a few years away and He needed to prepare His twelve disciples to carry on His message.
This two-year period of time was critical to maintain and advance the momentum Jesus established in the first year of his ministry. From this point forward, the whole character and motive of Jesus’ ministry changed. His focus switched from the multitudes to the few. His first priority was to train the men who would become His ambassadors of the Gospel and the momentum would continue through these chosen few.
Twelve was a number Jesus could disciple, mentor, tutor, and teach in a one-on-one setting. Twelve was the number with whom He could have friendship and a relationship.
Less is More
The Lord understood that spending more time with less people would eventually impact the Kingdom in a greater measure than meeting with great crowds of people. Less would become more…many, many more. All of us need to use this concept in training and mentoring other leaders.
Jesus took it a step further. He broke down the twelve into three. Peter, James, and John became what we know as the inner circle; they were the closest to Jesus. These three were instrumental in carrying on what Jesus started. Whatever these three did, the others would also do. Consequently, Jesus spent more time mentoring these three than any of the other nine disciples.
- Peter was the one to whom Jesus entrusted the keys of the Kingdom. He went on to preach the keynote message at Pentecost.
- John was the disciple whom Jesus loved. The Lord shared things with John that he never shared with the others. Many of those things are recorded in the Gospel of John and the Book of Revelation.
- James and John were known as the Sons of Thunder, possessing a zeal for God that the others did not have.
Jesus had deeper discussions with these three men and they were closer to the Master than the others. For example, Jesus asked Peter, James and John to join Him when He healed Jairus’s daughter. They were present during the transfiguration and as Jesus anguished in the Garden of Gethsemane. They were the first great leaders of the church and became the foundation with Jesus as the Chief Cornerstone.
Jesus Christ, God of this universe, concentrated the majority of His efforts on three men who would emerge as the leaders of His Church. With Jesus as their commanding officer, these three men experienced hands-on training in the front lines of a spiritual warfare.
As we follow Jesus’ example we, too, will realize that less is more. After all, we can train and mentor a few a lot better than we can mentor a whole group or a classroom of potential leaders.
In everything we do, we should keep these concepts in mind. Don’t start something that you cannot properly manage and maintain. It will fail, having wasted precious time, energy, and resources to no avail. Simplification is key to maintaining momentum in any given organization.
If you would like to learn more about experiencing momentum in your ministry by raising up the leaders around you, take a look at http://www.pastoralhelps.com/momentum-in-ministry-exclusives-page/