As I’ve recently read Luke 8 and 9 I’ve noticed a progression of training that the disciples went through. Any of us who have staff and volunteers would do well to discover this pattern.
First I noticed Luke’s progressively developing description of Jesus’ followers:
Jesus takes his disciples over the lake in a boat. A disciple is someone who follows and learns. They have no specific responsibility.
Once they’ve coped with the storm and a demon possessed man, they are now “The Twelve.” That’s their band name. They have something in common and are beginning to form an identity.
An apostle is someone who has been sent. They carry the authority of the one who sent them. The Twelve become The Apostles when Jesus sends them out the preach the Kingdom and heal the sick.
From followers to leaders
How did the disciples become apostles?
These three progressive titles for the 12 are used carefully as Jesus takes them on a leadership learning journey.
Here’s a summary of the cycle:
Teaching -> Demonstrating -> Sending -> Receiving Reports -> Retreating
Having received some teaching from Jesus, it was time for them to experience his power.
We need Jesus’ words and his works.
It’s interesting that Jesus didn’t tell his disciples what was going to happen next. But he will have known. He just said, “Let’s go to the other side of the lake.” Sounds nice. But little did the disciples know there would be a storm on the lake and a demon possessed man on the other side! Be careful how much information you share and who you share it with.
Receiving teaching is great, and so is seeing God at work. But there comes a time when he will call you to go and do his work.
The disciples were sent out to preach and heal, but only once they had received the important training above. With each miracle they saw, their faith will have grown.
They are now no longer just disciples. They have graduated to apostle status.
It’s never fun to be sent out by a boss who takes no interest in your work.
“When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus what they had done…” (Luke 9:10)
Take time to listen to anyone who volunteers for you. Let them feed back. It’s good for them and it will be good for you. Great relationships are built in such meetings.
“…took them with him and they withdrew by themselves…”
Spend time with your colleagues, workmates, volunteers, staff. They say leadership is lonely. I have never found that to be true. I love having a team around me who I can relax with and have fun. In this context we learn to trust one another, open up, become vulnerable and support each other.
Work cannot all be full steam ahead. Even Jesus took time out with his disciples. However short lived…
Unfortunately, the retreat stage was abruptly interrupted by the crowds catching up with them.
If it was me, I’d have sent them away.
I’d have explained that we need some space.
Jesus did four things differently from me. He:
- Welcomed them
- Spoke to them about the Kingdom of God
- Healed those who needed it
- Fed them
Sometimes interruptions are an opportunity for a miracle.
Let’s not get so caught up in our retreat moment that we miss the opportunity.