I have always been fascinated with the collection of Mighty Men assembled by King David (1 Chronicles 12). As a leader, I've been zealous to gather such a group myself to wage war on the kingdom of darkness in my city, my nation and my world. I have imagined us gathering together in rustic cabins eating meat, drinking stout beer and telling stories of great victories in church planting and evangelism. What we would do "for Jesus" would be legendary!
What about Jesus' disciples?
Recently, however, I have been struck by the difference in the men King David assembled (mighty) and the men Jesus chose (weak). David and his men went into battle fully resourced. Jesus and his men encountered their battles with hardly anything. In fact, when Jesus sent them out to wage war on the Kingdom of darkness he actually commanded them to take nothing (Luke 10:4)! Moreover, His final charge of "encouragement" was "I'm sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves." These men were hardly going out in the strength and confidence that they were bigger than the situation. In fact, Jesus was constantly leading his men into situations where the needs of the situation dwarfed their resources.
Consider the Feeding of the 5000. There were 5000 men plus women and children and all they had were five barely loaves and two fish. Now we all know how the story ends. Jesus blesses the food, it somehow multiplies and feeds the entire crowd and then some. However, the leadership principle I find interesting is when Jesus asks Philip, "Where are we to buy bread." Jesus asks the question we all ask when we are faced with a challenge, "what physical resources do we have to solve this problem?" But the text says in John 6:6 that Jesus said this to test him. Test him in what? Test to see whether or not he had learned that the difference between victory and defeat does not depend on our resource and might, but His. Because the truth be told, even if you were to gather the most gifted people in the world, their natural ability alone has nothing on the Prince of Darkness. But Jesus builds His church and the gates of hell cannot prevail.
Skip the gifted?
What does this mean for those of us who are church leaders or church planters? Should you ignore the most gifted men for the least gifted men? No. I'm not anyway. The other extreme would be to ignore that God builds His church through gifts in a church. After all, these gifts that grow a church are from God. The issue is whether or not you are ultimately relying on God's power or your ability to recruit resources.
A commentator on John 6 had this to say, “It is not God’s intention that we should be in ourselves adequate to our tasks, rather He wants that we should be inadequate. If we only accepted tasks that we think that are adapted to our powers, we are not responding to the call of God. The church is always in a crisis and always will be. Difficulties, problems, lack of people and money, a menacing outlook, endless misunderstandings and misrepresentations. We are not just suppose to go forward despite these things, they are precisely the conditions requisite for the doing of them.”
Whether you feel like you have mighty men around you or a bunch of misfits. Don't look at your resource to determine what God wants to do in and through your church. Look to Jesus and expect His miraculous power to kick in.