Send Out The Messengers
Chan Gin Kai
When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. He told them: “Take nothing for the journey – no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt. Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. If people do not welcome you, leave their town and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” So they set out and went from village to village, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere. (Luke 9:1-6)
This passage consists of a few leadership principles we can learn from Jesus.
Send Them Out
Jesus selected the Twelve not too long ago (Luke 6:12-16) and they have been learning from him. There’s obviously a reason why the Twelve had learnt from him – it is for them to become like him, to do what he did. The Twelve had not spent a long time with Jesus yet. There’s obviously still a lot that they did not know and have not learnt. But that didn’t stop Jesus; he still “sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God.”
As disciples of Christ, we are expected to be like Jesus, to do what he did, and spread the good news of salvation. For those among us who are leaders in God’s kingdom, we’ve been actively serving God, teaching His word and leading people closer to Him. But do we send out the disciples? Do we expect the people we’re leading to do the same?
Some of us may be overly protective. We mollycoddle our disciples and dare not expect them to ‘do the hard work’. Instead of helping them, this actually hinders their spiritual growth. We cannot simply feed them theology and meet their needs but not expect them to actively do the work that God has called them to do. They’ll grow from serving God.
Some of us may be proud. We think our disciples are not as good as we are and won’t do a good job. We forget that the best way for them to learn is to try. According to our human reasoning, those who are more skilled and experienced would do a better job. But let’s not forget that the “successes” and “achievements” we’ve had are more because of the Spirit than our abilities. The Spirit dwells in our disciples too.
Let’s get the ‘young ones’ to evangelise, to lead Bible Discussions, to do Bible Studies, to lead Discipleship Groups, and more. Believe in them, and expect them to do God’s work.
Equip & Empower Them
Jesus “gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases”. We may not be able to give out miraculous powers, but we are still able to equip and empower our disciples as we send them out.
We should always equip our disciples so they can do more. Get them to follow us like apprentices and impart our skills to them. Create syllabi and organise training classes. Share our experiences – the good and the bad, the victories and the failures.
Inculcate in them a desire to learn, and the courage to try. Help them see that failures are okay, and that each defeat is a learning point. Grow in them a desire to read the Bible and develop their own lessons. Encourage them to learn from others besides us.
Inculcate A Singular Focus
Jesus told them to “take nothing for the journey – no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt”. This concept would have been familiar to the Jews. The Talmud teaches, “No one is to go to the Temple Mount with staff, shoes, girdle of money, or dusty feet.” The idea was that when a man entered the temple, he should be free from trade, business and other worldly affairs. Jesus expected the disciples to proclaim God’s kingdom with a singular focus.
We must have no other motives in preaching God’s word. God has to be glorified, not us, and we must not think of personal gain. When we do God’s work, we must not be distracted by the many other responsibilities that demand our attention too. Let’s be focused when we’re serving God and teach the same to our disciples.
Teach Them How To Handle Rejections
Jesus taught the Twelve, “If people do not welcome you, leave their town and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” It is a concept akin to our phrase, “I wash my hands of it.” It was a symbolic indication that they have done all they could and therefore carry no additional responsibilities. They could walk away with a clear conscience that they have done their best.
No one likes rejections, and no one has a natural skill in handling them. It is a virtue that needs to be learnt, as we will certainly face rejections. There will be people who refuse the gospel. There will be Christians who want to leave God. There will be those who want to persist in sin. We’ll want to try our best to help them, but they may not respond to our sincerest efforts.
If we have done our best in teaching people about God and they still reject Him, then we can walk away with a clear conscience. There is no need for us to be hard on ourselves, to feel guilt ridden, or to look at ourselves as failures. We must not allow people’s rejection of Christ to hinder us from reaching out to others who may accept him.
The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Let’s send out the messengers.
Chan Gin Kai
Gin Kai is a film producer who believes in the power of media to inspire positive changes. He has spearheaded disaster relief and capacity building projects in impoverished communities across Asia. In church, he serves as a mentor to young professionals in the EDGE Ministry. He describes himself as "just a sinner who wants to get right with God".