March 18, 2017

Numbers 11:17 “I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take of the Spirit that is on you and put the Spirit on them. They will help you carry the burden of the people so that you will not have to carry it alone.”

Verse 15 indicates that Moses was suffering from burnout to the point of fairly severe depression. It’s somewhat comforting to realize that even someone like Moses had times like that! God’s answer was to share the burden. Some leaders are dictators by choice, but many, like Moses, simply don’t know how to do it any other way. It is important to note that here God deals with delegation in an explicitly spiritual way. Leadership of God’s people must be by the power and leading of the Holy Spirit. That is a major issue in church staffing. Too often staff members are chosen on the basis of natural ability or charisma, or even of physical appearance, rather than by how they are filled with the Holy Spirit and own (agree with, are dedicated to) the vision of the church. That’s a recipe for disaster down the line. Multiple gifted leaders who aren’t on the same page often lead to church splits, with all the regrettable fallout that comes from that. Planting daughter congregations is a different matter, even though to some observers it might look very similar. The point is, here God was providing coworkers with a spiritual connection to Moses, so he could be at peace about how they would lead. Often burnout happens because we don’t recognize those people the Lord has already provided to come alongside us. If our eyes are really lifted to Him, we can recognize what He is doing, but when we are focused on ourselves and the problems that face us, we can’t see anything else. God seldom, if ever, intends for people to labor alone. In Genesis, the first thing He said was not good was for the man to be alone. There, of course, it was in relation to a spouse and the marital relationship, but the principle applies more broadly than that. We are created to work together, which is why loneliness is one of the most common issues for pastors. We need to look to God so that we will recognize the spiritual connections He provides, to do His work together.

This has been a major issue in my ministry, particularly since coming to Omura. Because I’m not organizationally connected to anyone, I’ve had to choose to make connections, joining and even creating ministerial groups. However, that has perhaps gone less smoothly within this congregation. I have sought to raise up co-leaders, but to this point they have either left this church on their own or petered out, or both. I now have my first formally ordained assistant pastor, and we meet for early morning prayer six days a week as we seek to be on the same page in all areas. That can be real work! I am to remember first of all that the ministry isn’t about me, it’s about Christ and His kingdom, and learn as well as teach. It has been clear all along that my assistant pastor’s calling was from God, because human logic and thinking wouldn’t have predicted what has come about. I am to seek to recognize and flow with the Holy Spirit, wherever and however He leads us.

Father, I’m in unfamiliar territory here. Help me learn from my mistakes of the past. Help me be the mentor You want me to be without being controlling, enabling and encouraging rather than dictating, so that the Body of Christ may be built up indeed, for the blessing of many and for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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