As you engage in ministry, however, it doesn’t take long to realize the main thing working against you: There’s only one of you, and there are so many of them. The hours will run out long before you do all you could do to love and serve people, while remaining faithful to the other responsibilities God has given you. You’ll need help to get the job done.
This fact is nothing new. Jesus spoke at length to his disciples of his coming departure to save the world (John 13-16). He “knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world” (John 13:1), and he would no longer be physically present to carry on his ministry. Yet he would not leave them as orphans; he would send help to be with them forever (John 14:16-19). It was to their advantage that he depart and send this help (John 16:7-11).
Now there are many ways we are not like Jesus. The Father has not given all things into our hands. We have not come from God, nor can we go back to God on our own merit. We are not the heavenly hosts, with authority to prepare a place for those we love. We cannot send the Holy Spirit into the hearts of our people to guide them into all truth.
But there are plenty of ways we are like Jesus. God’s plan is not for us to do all the work of ministry ourselves, but for us to make disciples who will carry on the work alongside us. Though we don’t send the Holy Spirit, we certainly can rely on him to provide the help we need in the community of believers. Like Jesus, we will have tribulation. And like Jesus (though for us, it is through Jesus), we have hope and the promise of God that we will overcome the world.
What does this mean?
Just as Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to help the community grow in love and faith, we can trust the Spirit to be at work in the community to grow people in love and faith. That means that we, as leaders, should not be the hub of ministry such that all that is true and loving passes through us to the rest of the group. We need the group members to help us love the group members. Part of leadership is facilitating a God-honoring community where love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control flow freely among the members. We can foster healthy relationships, attractive group dynamics, winsome recruiting, and redemptive counseling among group members.
If we fail, the group will never outgrow our particular idiosyncrasies and insecurities as leaders. If we succeed, the world just might realize we are his disciples (John 13:35), and we’ll see mountains move.