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.