Monday, July 13, 2015

Developing Vs. Recruiting

About a week ago, there was a very amusing, and somewhat troubling, scene which emerged from the halls of the US Congress.  Amidst a US Senate inquiry into the status of Syrian rebel development by the US military (that is Syrian rebel defectors who have been vetted and trained by the US military for assistance in fighting ISIS) the US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, gave an embarrassed and embarrassing response.  Sen John McCain: "How many rebels have been trained to date?"  Sec. Ashton Carter: "(Ahem...) well 60".  60,000 wondered some members of the US Senate Armed Services Committee?  Five dozen!

Another Senator continued the questioning:  "Do you mean to tell me we have spent $500,000,000 to train 60 people?"  "That's correct," said Ashton Carter.  Five-hundred-million dollars for 60 new leaders....

As I have pondered this perplexing ratio between the number of people trained and the amount that it has cost the US government to train them, it would seem that we, the US tax payers, have paid $8,333,333 per person being trained in Syria.  For that amount of money the US could send entire villages of Syrians to college for several generations.  Obviously questions need to be asked about the efficacy, if not the financial feasibility of spending so much much for such a little outcome.

However, as a pastor of fifteen years, and someone who has started three new church developments, I have a slightly different perspective.  The amount of money, time, effort and work that is involved in "Developing" new leaders, verses the amount of money, time, effort and work that is involved in simply "Recruiting" them is a totally different thing.  And so, this week, I want to reflect briefly on the topic of:

Developing Vs. Recruiting

Whenever you bring a completely new set of ideas, philosophies, and beliefs into an existing culture (especially where those ideas, philosophies and beliefs have never existed before), you are going to have to spend a lot of money and expend a lot of time and energy.  In short, it's just going to cost you!

One of the most famous missionaries of all time is Dr. David Livingstone.  Chances are that you remember Livingstone for his memorable meeting of Henry Stanley on Nov. 10, 1871.  Stanley had been sent to find Livingstone in the deepest heart of Africa.  Finally, after years of searching, Stanley found Livingstone in the town of Ujiji on the shores of Lake Tanganyika.  Upon meeting, Stanley said to Livingstone; "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?"  Livingstone responded by saying, "Yes, I feel thankful that I am hear to welcome you!"

One startling fact about Dr. Livingstone's missionary work that is often forgotten, however, is that in his 32 years as a missionary to Africa, he only received one Christian convert (a tribal chieftain named, Sechele).  One convert for 32 years of work.  One convert for tens of thousands of pounds donated by the London Missionary Society.  But what Livingstone experienced as a missionary was the difference between:

Developing Vs. Recruiting

When you are developing new leaders, you are spending countless hours with them.  As soon as you feel that the future leader you are developing is really making some head-way, you find out that there are whole new areas of growth that need to take place.  When you are introducing someone to a totally new way of thinking, life, outlook, it requires so much time and work.  The financial and energy resources required to grow effective future leaders are sometimes seemingly infinite in their size.

Recruiting future leaders is simply a matter of signing them up for a list.  But recruitment of leaders never lasts down the road - only developing of leaders does!

Jesus ran into this problem all the time with the leaders (disciples) he was trying to develop.  One day, when he really felt that after three years of work, he was getting through to his disciples, he was talking to them about how one day he would have to die.  Peter, Jesus' most promising leader said, "Never Lord!"  "This shall never happen to you."  Jesus, in a moment of frustration said, "Get thee behind me Satan!" (Matthew 16:23).  Jesus experienced the difference between:

Developing Vs. Recruiting

When I was starting out my ministry, I was a Campus Minister at the University of Michigan.  The church I was working for had never had a very large or effective ministry before, even though that church was literally right on the edge of the University of Michigan campus.  I spent three years working very hard to build that program.  We took 20 college students on a mission trip to The Philippines, a trip that was mostly paid for by the members of that congregation.  But in actually we did not develop these leaders that went on the mission trip, we just recruited them.  At the end of three years, what did I have to show for my efforts?  Actually there were only three very effective young Christian leaders.  One of them eventually went to seminary.  I will never forget a question one of the elders of that church asked me at an elder meeting, "You mean to tell me we have spent around $50,000 for 3 young leaders?"  "Yes," I told him, "but one of them went to seminary." The truth was, though, I knew the difference between:

Developing Vs. Recruiting

If you are in a position to bring about new leadership in an area that has never existed before, and you are wondering whether the money time and effort you are spending are worth it, consider the examples of Ashton Carter, David Livingston and Jesus (thus naming a new holy trinity:-).

And keep at it!

All For Now,

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