[Month 2 (Week 8): This post is part of the “6 Month Discipleship Plan” series]
We were given an opportunity to organize a youth fellowship at a campus in Manila last year. I opened up about it here and a little bit here. You also may know more about it here. It officially started on October 2018 and as of date, we are still praying and waiting and hoping for its renewal this semester.
I have also been open about how Martin and I are learning from the pains and processes of these beginnings. Of course, in those pains and processes come mistakes. Here’s one of our many slips.
In the second semester of LAYF-LPU, particularly after two batches of students who participated in the Encounter God Retreat (EGR), we started delegating tasks for training purposes — tasks like consolidating the names and numbers of confirmed attendees per fellowship, assisting in the set-up and wrap-up of the room, apprenticeship in leading cell groups, etc. This is on top of their participation to Bridge to Life Workshops.
As we were observing their responses and attitudes towards the seemingly small tasks assigned to them, we sensed the confirmation of how important availability is in a Christian’s life. No matter how teachable or receptive a person is towards the word of God and guidance of spiritual leaders, if he or she isn’t available, what is there to learn or retrieve, right? In the Parable of the Great Banquet (Luke 14:15-24), we learn that we are all being invited to be in fellowship with God yet those who do not value Him and His invitation will make excuses not to go to Him.
Indeed, it is very important for a follower of Jesus to be available in fellowship, worship and more importantly his or her personal time with the Lord.
Availability is important but it’s not everything.
However, Martin and I overemphasized on availability — carelessly forgetting that wise discernment in terms of leadership is based on the Holy Spirit’s leading, empowered by prayer in faith and guided by God’s word. We, out of just our sight-level observation, immediately decided on potential leadership trainees based on availability. We got off track in terms of discerning spiritual maturity.
Availability/attendance is important but it is not an end-all-be-all. Just because a person shows up in fellowship, does not mean that he or she should already be appointed as a leadership trainee. Just because a person helps out or assists in logistics, does not mean he or she is already sold-out to the gospel. More importantly, just because we are excited to maximize potentiality, does not mean we should rush on appointing leaders.
If we base leadership solely on someone’s performance and frequency in fellowship, we’ll miss out on so many things.
This was one of our big mistakes. We appointed leadership trainees without praying about it as we should.
We focused so much on urgency that we forgot about how praying to God and consulting/ depending on Him about things can accomplish more than what we think can be done and has to be done. We focused so much about going wide that we forgot how ministry is more about going deep — deeper in relationship with God, deeper in the knowledge of the truth, deeper in prayer, deeper in knowing Jesus. That is, deeper in being.
This mistake of ours caused relational and ministry consequences. I remember times when some new-comers shared to me how they would see “leaders” in our mid-week fellowship live a double life — holier than thou in LAYF but carnal outside of it. These revelations broke my heart but I believe this was God’s way of teaching us things and helping us out. We would have been blinded all along but God did not allow it.
The Bible is full of truths regarding leadership. The night before choosing His 12 disciples, Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, and He prayed ALL NIGHT! (Luke 6:12-16). Before Matthias was chosen to replace Judas through the casting of lots, there were qualifications for the pool they considered: “with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us” and “must be a witness of His resurrection” (Acts 1:12-26).
We learnt along the way that in prayer and guidance of God’s word, the leaders we choose must:
- Be inwardly sold out to Christ’s Great Commission
- Demonstrate godliness and consecration in all areas of their lives, leading and inspiring others by example
- Be available and flexible for horizontal and vertical fellowship with Jesus
- Demonstrate teachability and accountability
- Have the heart to serve and contribute to the church
Again availability is important but it’s not everything. So it’s best to not appoint anyone YET than appoint carelessly.