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Walking Wounded

Moses spent 80 years in preparation – 40 in the Pharaoh’s house and 40 in the wilderness.

Joshua spent decades as his apprentice.

David did not become king right after his anointing by Samuel and let’s not forget that Samuel spent most of his developing years being prepared for his role.

John the baptist was set apart from the womb but did not begin his ministry for nearly 30 years – as did Jesus Christ.

Paul was struck down on the road to Damascus by a bright light by which Christ called him into a ministry that he would not begin for several years.  He had to go through a time of preparation even though he was one of the most well-versed persons in the bible (Old Testament) of his day.

Why do I give all of these examples?  For this reason:

In the American global consumer culture, we are more interested in availability and cost effectiveness than we are in quality.

If I translate that to its impact on the church, I could say this:  We are in danger of mistaking zeal for maturity and pressing those persons into service before they have been properly trained and prepared.  The church has a large appetite for bodies to be used in a myriad of projects and programs and, in my opinion and experience, will fore-go procedures by which individuals are tested for preparedness.

Now, I don’t mean to make this a blanket statement for every purpose that the church invites people to participate in… there are functions that are practical means by which persons can be trained for their greater purpose.

So what is the danger of pressing persons into service before they are ready?  We run the danger of creating the walking-wounded on both sides of the service – those serving and those being served.

The military understands that you don’t take 18 year old boys, hand them a gun, and send them into combat.  This is because there is a greater likelihood that they will hurt themselves or the men around them if they don’t understand how to follow orders, take care of their weapon, or take care of themselves in the middle of combat.  It is one of the reasons that those boys are started down the path to manhood during 8 weeks in boot camp.

It is so easy for us to use expediency and need as excuses for taking shortcuts.  I mean, we can’t have the latest project fail just because we don’t have bodies to throw at it, can we?  That would rob people of their blessing for the service that they would provide.  Right??

I wonder how many churches have defined policies by which they can train and qualify persons for service.   Or how many just consume.

You know.. I was thinking about Paul and the time he spent in preparation.  And two things came to mind:

  • He needed time to work through the changes that occurred during that roadside conversion.
  • AND… he needed time for the people around him to understand the changes that had occurred in him.

These are just some thoughts for a rainy, Monday morning.

Peace.

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  1. April 26, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    Have to agree with you on this Tony. We have the distinct problem of putting people on the front lines too soon. We do that with “celebrity” conversions. We get so excited about their decision and the publicity for the cause that comes along with him/her that we put them out there and if they are not prepared they get eaten alive. I have felt that asking them to spend some time in quiet bible study with someone, say for a year or so before they start “ministry” would be good. Paul spent 3 years learning. Good thoughts here my friend. May your tribe increase.

    • April 26, 2010 at 3:54 pm

      Bill,

      I have heard several testimonies over the years where teachers/preachers were asked to do studies, empty trash, and other works of humility before they were ever given the opportunity to lead.

      And all of them looking back said how important that time of preparation had been for them.

      We have to be careful not to create consumer only church bodies… but we also have to avoid being body consuming churches.

  2. April 26, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    Too, true! And it was 14 years before he went to visit two leaders of the Jerusalem church. Christians are the only species I know who slice and dice their own. Talk about walking wounded!!

    • April 26, 2010 at 3:59 pm

      I think we assume a time of preparation is a time of idleness. I don’t believe that the persons that I mentioned above were idle at all in their preparations. We aren’t given a whole lot to go on for those periods of solitude but I believe we can still learn a lot from them.

      Thanks for weighing in on this topic. I believe we have a lot of intelligent Christians espousing solid ideas and doctrines but we have a sloppy mechanism for applying the basic principles of growth. It is that sloppiness that causes pain.

  3. April 26, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    Wow, very strong post brother. I have an example of that on my heart right now, and it is a painful one. A man I know and love as a brother is leading a small group, but is not mature in the Lord, and it is causing dissention in the group, and people are probably going to start dropping out. I am not in a leadership role as that is not my calling, but have been praying daily for this man to see the error of his ways before our group breaks up. Zeal does not equal maturity.
    God Bless
    Jim

    • April 26, 2010 at 5:53 pm

      Jim,

      That is a tough one. Prayer is important and hopefully a brother that this man trusts can take some time to talk about whatever the issues are.

      Praying for you and the group.

  4. April 26, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    LOVE THIS POST. even Jesus, the very Son of God took 30 years of preparation for 3 years of ministry that He had here on earth.

    i once told this to the women in my smallgroup.

    – to those who have been christians for a long time: if you have wisdom but have lost your zeal…then your wisdom just becomes head knowledge.
    -to those of you who are new christians: if you have zeal without wisdom then your “passion” can become very hurtful (to you and others around you).

    a seasoned, trial-tested christian with a passionate heart for God is a very dangerous thing… in fact that person is probably enlisted in heaven’s green beret list. the Christian who remains in love with God and proved to be faithful after being tested will be able to CHANGE the world.

    • April 26, 2010 at 6:13 pm

      Patricia,

      You have said it so elegantly in this:

      “- to those who have been christians for a long time: if you have wisdom but have lost your zeal…then your wisdom just becomes head knowledge.
      -to those of you who are new christians: if you have zeal without wisdom then your “passion” can become very hurtful (to you and others around you).”

      That is perfect!

  5. April 26, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    “We are in danger of mistaking zeal for maturity and pressing those persons into service before they have been properly trained and prepared.”

    SO true. It is easier to see zeal than steady consistency… often we as churches go for the flashy instead of the real.

    And once we have used their zeal… we spit them out. Great post!

    • April 26, 2010 at 6:17 pm

      Thanks, Jenny!

      I have watched it happen time after time over the last 7 years. As I sit here, names and faces appear and I wonder where those persons are now.

      I think one of our issues is that we believe zeal will attract ( and there is some truth to that ) but there has to be substance behind that zeal otherwise it is a house of cards that first strong breeze will bring crumbling down.

    • April 26, 2010 at 6:27 pm

      Very true Jenny. Spitting them out is all too common especially when they fail or fall or drift all because they were unprepared. we need to be more diligent in “requiring” study and some humility learning.

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