by Adam Van Dop, Youth Pastor at Living Hope CRC in Abbotsford, BC
I live in British Columbia, which I think is an ancient Greek variation of “many rains.” For those who don’t know, BC is on the west coast of Canada, is accurately nicknamed the “wet coast.” The other morning, I arrived at my office, poured a cup coffee (into my new network mug!), and turned on my computer.
It was a very quiet morning in the office; I was the only one there. I had just had a very busy weekend full of birthdays, my anniversary with my wife, an engagement party, church stuff, and a lot of driving around. So there I was, settled into my chair, enjoying the stillness. And I prayed something I usually pray – “God, give me some inspiration for something cool.”
I then read a chapter out of 1st Corinthians, where I have been reading lately, but that cool inspiration didn’t follow. I took another sip of coffee, logged onto my now turned on computer, and waited, and continued to stare out my window.
The skies were grey, and the weatherman was calling for more of the liquid sunshine. There was a single puddle left over from the previous nights rain fall in the middle of the church parking lot. For some reason I stared at this puddle, I couldn’t take my eyes off it. Then a single drop fell, and hit the puddle.
But that was just one drop. The ripple had faded to nothing before it reached the edges of the puddle. After a few seconds of stillness, another drop fell, and the ripple and fade followed. This process happened a couple more times with single drips.
- Then more drops dripped.
- Then more ripples rippled.
- And the puddle got bigger (I assume this of course, as I didn’t exactly run out there with a ruler).
Now let’s go back a few thousand years, we’re the Israelites in the wilderness, and our fearless leader, Moses, runs the show, we go to him for everything. We bring our complaints, our little fights, our massive disagreements – our need for water, sustenance for life – everything.
Then one day, this other old guy shows up, Jethro – he’s Moses’ father-in-law. And he spends some time with Moses seeing what he does around the camp. Moses records it like this, (Exodus 18:13-14, ESV):
13 The next day Moses sat to judge the people, and the people stood around Moses from morning till evening. 14 When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, “What is this that you are doing for the people? Why do you sit alone, and all the people stand around you from morning till evening?”
Moses replies to Jethro, basically saying, “Because they need me to figure out all their problems.” Jethro calls Moses out saying, “What you are doing is not good.”
Moses had taken on this leadership thing by himself; he felt that it was up to him, and him only to lead the people. Let’s recall that there were a couple million of them out there in the wilderness – and Moses thought he was on his own …
Moses was like that one single drop of rain that I saw landing in the puddle. Yes, there was an effect, a ripple was formed, but soon the ripple faded, and didn’t make it all the way out to the edges.
Jethro said – “that’s just plain not good, nothing is going to get done.” So he offers Moses some advice, saying, “21Look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. 22And let them judge the people at all times. Every great matter they shall bring to you, but any small matter they shall decide themselves. So it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you.” (Exodus 18:21-22, ESV)
These other leaders are the other drops that caused ripples to flow over the entire puddle. Moses’ ripple could not affect the entire puddle, but collectively, Moses and all his leaders would.
In this season of the youth year, which is quickly drawing to a close, I am establishing who of my leaders are returning for the fall, and those who are not. And this puddle metaphor comes as a reminder that we in the ministry cannot (and therefore should not) attempt to complete our jobs alone.
We need credible people to come along side us and help us affect the puddles of people all around us. The word ‘able,’ that Moses uses implies that this person is strong & efficient, perhaps a good candidate for the army, who commands respect, and respects those around them.
These are people that we need to help the ripple effect in not only our youth puddles, but our overall church puddle, and our greater community puddle – and goes even beyond that – our world sized ocean covered in waves.
Before coming to Living Hope CRC, the pastor I worked with did just this. He found people who had gifts, and he got them to work with them. One guy had an amazing gift for playing guitar – he became the worship leading guy. Another guy, was a bit of a techno-internet guy – he became the guy in charge of coming up with a website and all things techno. Another guy, who happens to be me, was studying in Bible College to be a pastor – I became his preaching intern. Our ministry there flourished because this pastor knew a couple things.
1. He couldn’t go at it alone.
2. The more people who helped out, the better.
3. God gave people gifts to actually use them.
Stuff that Jethro was indirectly teaching Moses.
In my ministry here at LH, I’m trying to do this same thing, to empower those who have gifts to freely use them, and to encourage the development of those gifts – for one reason – to make sure that the LHyouth puddle can be fully rippled.
Surely, the camp life improved once Moses implemented Jethro’s advice. Surely, there were natural leaders who were then given the ability to do what they were gifted at.
So may you, in your ministry (remember what I’ve said before, that your life is your ministry), bring up people around you, who have gifts and let them use them – so that your puddle, no matter where it is, may be fully rippled, and then as a result – made bigger.