Two of my daughters are 18 months apart in age. And Little Sis wants to try everything Big Sis does. Big Sis reads a book; Little Sis wants to read the same book. Big Sis plays a sport; Little Sis wants to try the same sport. Papa hurls Big Sis into the air during a playful tussle; Little Sis demands fellowship in behurlment.
Little Sis spouts her “Can I try?” mantra like a doll with a pull string, and her repetitive, invasive pushiness tempts most of her siblings past the brink of annoyance. Honestly, I’m tempted to be annoyed by it…until I remember how biblical it is.
The Risk of Dumb Ideas
The second stage of training a Bible study apprentice is “I do; you help.” In this stage, you invite the apprentice not only to watch you lead but also to lead along with you. You give the apprentice real responsibility, which is hard to do.
But as you let that leash out, you run the risk of the apprentice coming up with ideas. And the apprentice may want to carry out some of those ideas. And some of those ideas will be dumb.
Let’s say you are God in the flesh, and you can master the elements of nature however you see fit. You are special, and there is nobody on earth like you. Though most human leaders feel indispensable, only you truly are indispensable. You can do things nobody else can do. In fact, you must do things nobody else can do.
So you go about your business, proving you are the Son of God and preparing to die for the sin of the world. And one night, during the fourth watch, you do the impossible, striding across the sea as though it were a stage for one of your grandest pronouncements: “Take heart; it is I.”
And suddenly, from the cheap seats, a pipsqueak chirps: “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” Yeah, he’s your top guy. Yeah, you’re training him for leadership in great things. You’ve let him begin to help with your ministry. But he’s still a pipsqueak, and it’s still a dumb idea. Shoot it down. Now.
“Come.” (Matt 14:25-33). What?!
Find a Leader’s True Courage
My point is that none of us can out-risk Jesus. Unlike us, he would have succeeded by letting the world revolve around him. Of course, he did exactly that, after a fashion (Col 1:16-17). But unlike us, he quickly drew others in and relied on them to assist in the work. He had the courage to set them loose and let them try things.
He wouldn’t let them exact vengeance (Luke 9:51-56), and he never tolerated idleness (John 4:27, 35-38). But he constantly let them try things.
- “You give them something to eat.”
- “How many loaves do you have?”
- “Go into the villages.”
- “I will make you fishers of men.”
- “Go and make disciples of all nations.”
Jesus knew he was in control and could turn their mistakes into something beautiful. Our hope is the same: Jesus is in control and can turn mistakes into something beautiful. His resurrection guarantees his plan to make all things new, so we don’t have to fear failure on the part of immature or inexperienced apprentices. When we believe this good news, we’ll find the courage to let them try, and occasionally fail.