To Bless Many, Focus on a Few

As a leader, where should the majority of your focus be? Should you be focused on the crowd or on a smaller group of people?

As you read through the gospels, you find Jesus being incredibly intentional with His disciples and intensely focused on their development. Jesus was focused on a few, for the blessing of the many. Because His disciples were transformed and trained, the world was radically impacted. Robert Coleman wrote, “His concern was not with programs to reach the multitudes, but with men, who the multitudes would follow… The disciples were to be His method of winning the world to God.”

Luke 12 provides us a snapshot of Jesus’ intense focus on His disciples. A massive crowd gathered around Jesus, so much so that people were trampling on one another. And Jesus “began to say to His disciples first” (Luke 12:1). Jesus’ first concern was not the crowd, but His disciples.

Try to get a sense of the scene… Imagine showing up at a major Christian event to hear an incredible communicator, the one everyone longs to hear from. The stadium is sold-out. Christians are honking at one another in the massive parking lot and cutting in front of one another in line, vying for the best seats. You finally sit down with your Diet Coke and chicken sandwich, ready to hear from an incredible teacher. To your surprise, the teacher invites a small group on the stage and speaks to them while you are sitting in the crowd. You think, “Is this some type of illustration?” But the teacher continues. Finally someone asks a question. The famous speaker briefly answers but then turns back to the small group and continues addressing them directly. It could seem a bit odd, a bit dismissive of the crowd. This is how Luke 12 reads…

Jesus was teaching His disciples in the midst of a huge crowd, a crowd who has been waiting for this moment. After someone asked questions about dividing an inheritance, Jesus answered him with a parable and then again spoke directly to His disciples about not worrying, trusting God, seeking Him first, and being prepared (Luke 12:13-40). As you read the narrative, you get the sense that perhaps Peter feels badly for the crowd. He even asks Jesus, “Lord are you telling this parable to us or to everyone?” In other words, “Jesus there are a whole bunch of people here. Watching and listening to you right now. Are you thinking this is for them too?” Jesus didn’t answer Peter. He kept speaking to His disciples about faithfulness and suffering (Luke 12:41-53).

One would expect the well-sought out Teacher to speak to the masses and allow the smaller group to overhear. But Jesus spoke to the disciples and allowed the crowd to overhear, not the other way around. Jesus’ focus was precisely opposite of what we might expect.

Why did Jesus focus so passionately on His disciples? He knew His time with them was short, and they were the focus of His urgency. In John 17, in His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane for His disciples, Jesus prayed:

I have revealed Your name to the men You gave Me from the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. Now they know that all things You have given to Me are from You, because the words that You gave Me, I have given them. They have received them … (John 17:6-8)

Jesus left His role as disciple-maker knowing “the words that you gave me, I have given them.” A time is approaching when you will vacate your role. Wise leaders envision their last day and work backwards. To make the biggest impact, the few need your focus. To bless many, focus on a few.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger serves as the Vice President of the Church Resource Division at LifeWay Christian Resources. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. He is also a teaching pastor and a frequent speaker and consultant on church mission and strategy. Eric authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, playing with his daughters, and shooting basketball.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 

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