Leadership and Inadequacy
The bad news about leading a church is that you will most likely always feel (and often be) under-resourced. I am not sure I have ever met a church planter or church leader who feels like they have too many resources and are unsure what to do with all they have.
The good news is that what your people and your church most need from you have nothing to do with finances, assets or budgets. Last time I checked, hope, vision, clarity, purpose, and modeling were free.
The great news is that Jesus has a history of taking sardines and saltines and creating a meal that satisfies the multitudes along with a bounty left over. He can take our measly offerings and truly do “exceedingly, abundantly more than we could ever ask or imagine” (Ephesians 4:20).
The feeding of the 5,000 is the only miracle of Jesus recounted in all four gospels and is the first miracles designed to train the twelve in ministry. The miracle is pregnant with leadership and ministry lessons but for this topic, we will stick with provision and resources and how God can take our limits and create sufficiency for those we serve.
With dinner approaching and a huge crowd of hungry people (the text mentions 5,000 which is probably a counting of the men only, with women and children some estimate upwards of 15,000 to 20,000), Jesus and the disciples are faced with a huge problem. The disciples suggested sending them away; Jesus said, “you give them something to eat”. The disciples scoured the crowd and come back with two fish and five loaves. That’s it. These under-resourced disciples were commanded by Jesus to meet the needs of people. You and I—under- resourced disciples ourselves—are in good company.
The disciples (and us!) are meant to learn a foundational lesson: In light of the incredible needs around us, the sum total of all that we bring to the table to meet those needs—gifts, skills, ideas, experiences, talent, educations, budgets, and plans—are like a couple of sardines and a few saltines with a calling by Jesus to feed thousands. Our insufficiencies are comical and ridiculous, unless, like we heed Jesus’ words to “bring them to me.” That’s the game changer.
Jesus takes our insufficiencies and inadequacies and does what we can not do and only what He can do. Jesus takes, blesses, breaks, and multiplies. It’s the “Black Magic” of ministry. Somehow, someway, He turns insufficiency and inadequacy—brought to him—into sufficiency and abundance. Do not ask or worry how. Divinity has its privileges.
Incidentally, in this story, I love that before the disciples have any clue of how this will all play out Jesus has them organize the crowd in preparation for a meal. He forces them to take steps of faith, by faith, in faith to act as if a provision was coming. In other words, he puts them in the glorious position of acting “in faith” and risk looking like idiots if He does not come through. They know what’s in the kitchen: two fish and five loaves. They also know who is in the kitchen: Jesus, the ultimate game changer.
Feeling under-resourced and inadequate to do what you feel like Jesus calls you to do? Great, it’s an incredible opportunity to walk by faith and trust in a Jesus who can take limited resources and provided a meal where “they all ate, and were satisfied. And there were twelve baskets full left over.”