Managing the Crowd
Holy Father, from You all good proceeds. I pray that faith, hope, and love will proceed from me today.
Read Luke 9:10-17
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“Work, as if there is no such thing as prayer: pray, as if there is no such thing as work” (unknown). How difficult to find just the right balance.
It must have been difficult to get that crowd seated in groups of 50! Just imagine the problems–5,000 men, no loudspeakers, difficult crowd control, and all those bodies to count. Why did Jesus ask his disciples to do it? It surely wasn’t necessary. But the disciples were into management: they came to Jesus with a practical, management suggestion (12), exercising the leadership that Jesus has given them (10; see Luke 9:1,2) and so Jesus gave them a practical, management job to do.
He’s not against management. Good order, sensible decision-making, prudent awareness of resources, and responsible anticipatory planning are all very important! It’s just that the energy of the Kingdom lies elsewhere. The church of Jesus Christ is powered by the visionary Spirit of God who sometimes overrides our careful planning.
Isn’t that great? It all started, of course, when the nice plan of having a rest after their strenuous mission was messed up by that huge crowd following Jesus out of Bethsaida (11). It’s usually human neediness that messes up good organization, and its human need that often calls forth the action of the Spirit. This is surely important when Christian organizations find themselves with insufficient resources to meet the needs they see. This is usually when the instinct to manage jumps into life! Two vital questions: 1) Are the needs we see the real needs? This crowd needed feeding, yes, but even more they needed a vision of the Kingdom, a life-changing story to tell their grandchildren. 2) How can we use the meager resources we have to provide signals, evidence and stories of the Kingdom? Crowd-control is merely incidental! The most vital phrase here is “looking up to heaven” (16).
Reflect on whether the church to which you belong has gotten lost in management, or is giving visions of the Kingdom to the world around.
Lord, I know it is so easy to put thorough planning ahead of people’s needs. I need wisdom to see clearly what is needed and discipline to act upon it.
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