Learning from Jesus' Ministry
If you were going to begin a ministry, what would you do first? I can tell you what I would do. I would map it all out with spreadsheets, flowcharts, group meetings, and a lot of coffee. I would surround myself with the best in the business. The one thing I would NOT do would be to launch my ministry before I felt it was 100% ready to go. No surprises. No unknowns. I would want to see a clear path from beginning to end. Let’s put “starting a ministry” down on the list of things where I have a lot more to learn from the life of Jesus. As it turns out, Jesus did the exact opposite of flowcharts and 5-point plans.
What did Jesus’ ministry look like when he ascended to heaven and left it in the hands of his disciples? Organizational flow chart? No, just the words He had set into the hearts of his followers. Highly qualified individuals? Not in the least. He counted among his staunchest followers a group of men who still weren’t clear what to do when he ascended into heaven. Office space? The Lord Jesus didn’t even have a home from which these followers could begin a home church! AND YET... And yet, these men and women began a ministry that today counts approximately 2.2 billion Christ-followers around the globe. As God on earth, Jesus Christ knew why He came, but the disciples weren’t handed a book titled “How To Begin A Global Ministry.” So how did it happen? How did a global church grow from a group of 12 imperfect disciples? Because Jesus obeyed His heavenly Father and left the results up to God.
Raising Children Like Jesus
If this is Jesus’ example to me on how to launch something great into the world, why do I go about raising my children the same way I would starting a ministry? I go through my days as if it is solely up to me to get these children raised and launched from the nest with all of their questions answered, their minds educated, their bodies protected, and their souls saved. I purchase books, listen to podcasts, attend seminars, and worry and fret every time they act in willful disobedience, scream in anger, or keep making the same bad choices over and over. I go back to the drawing board to see what I did wrong, what I missed, how I could do it better. And I’m so busy focusing on “I” that I forget to focus on “Him”—The author and finisher of our faith—my faith and my life, their faith and their life.
Remember Peter? Peter is by far one of my favorite men of the Bible. He is the poster child for messing up big-time and being restored with such love and mercy that his heart spilled open and poured out the message of Christ until his dying breath. As a disciple, Peter listened to Jesus’ every word, witnessed miracles, and was even warned about when he would mess up by Christ himself. Yet, when Peter failed the test and denied Jesus three times. Jesus didn’t throw up His hands and question His ability to disciple this man. He didn’t go back to the stack of books on “discipling” He had on his nightstand and re-read the parts He had highlighted. He didn’t see failure on His part. Instead, He offered forgiveness and led Peter back to the gospel.
What does this mean, then, for those of us raising and discipling children? I think it means the results aren’t up to us. We can teach our children the words of Jesus, instruct them in His precepts, converse with them about the gospel of Christ, and point them toward God but the end results are not ours. The results are God’s responsibility. To assume that the results are ours alone is sin. It puts us right back in the Garden of Eden, biting the fruit, trying desperately to gain what was never ours in the first place; to be like God. Obedience as a parent means putting the fruit down and acknowledging that He is God and I am not. I have been given my role in raising my children but I leave the results up to God. If God can take a handful of scared, but excited, disciples and turn them into His worldwide church, He can be trusted to take my children and lead them through the path of life.
I desperately want to learn from Jesus on this one. If I don’t need flowcharts, spreadsheets, or stacks of binders, what do I need to follow Christ’s example? It seems that my resources are few but powerful. I need God’s Word. I need prayer. I need to trust and obey. After that, I need to leave the rest to God.