‘Don’t think you need a lot of extra equipment for this. You are the equipment. No special appeals for funds. Keep it simple. And no luxury inns. Get a modest place and be content there until you leave. If you’re not welcomed, not listened to, quietly withdraw. Don’t make a scene. Shrug your shoulders and be on your way.’” Mark 6:6b-11 (The Message)
The disciples of Jesus had been walking in His dust for awhile now, paying attention to His teachings and learning how to be like their Rabbi. Now it was time for them to put on their sandals and walk in His footsteps. Let’s read their commissioning and instructions again, in the New International Version:
“Calling the Twelve to him, he sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits. These were his instructions:
‘Take nothing for the journey except a staff – no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. Wear sandals but not an extra tunic. Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave, as a testimony against them.’”
This had to be an exhilarating AND anxious time for the followers of Jesus. On the one hand, Jesus thought they were ready to do what He did! The chicks were ready to leave the nest! Try out their wings! Go on a field trip!
On the other hand, Jesus wasn’t going with them. What if they were met with a demon that wouldn’t leave, or a sickness that wouldn’t be healed? What if people questioned their authority or snubbed their witness, saying that they were only wanna-be-ministers (after all, they were fishermen and tax collectors by trade)?
At once they had to feel energized and empowered, inadequate and concerned. Did Jesus really know what He was doing?
Religious tradition has always dictated the procedures by which ministers are prepared and approved. Some are based in Scripture. Some are the ideas of men. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference.
Jesus set the precedent with these students of the Gospel – a precedent we would do well to pay attention to.
He’s the BOSS!
The authority by which men and women are called into ministry belongs to God alone. In this story of preparing, commissioning and sending, we can identify four qualifications of a minister of Christ. He/She must be:
- Filled with the Spirit’s authority and power
- Called to this particular work
- Instructed in the nuances of this particular work
- Commissioned to GO as a witness, testifying to the Gospel and grace of God.
Are you surprised? Where does it say I need to attend Bible College? Don’t I need an M.Div. behind my name? Isn’t there an internship program I need to sign up for? What about the certificate that should be hanging on my wall?
Who does the filling? God does, through His Spirit.
Who does the calling? God does.
Who does the instructing? God does. In the case of the Twelve, it was Jesus – the Word become flesh. In our case? The Spirit & the Word.
Who does the commissioning? God does. As it was with the Twelve, He’s the only One who can know when we’re ready to GO.
Let Him Bring Home the Bacon!
One of the names of God from Scripture is Jehovah Jireh – The God Who Provides (or, literally, The Lord Who Will See To It). Jesus’ instructions to His inner circle set them up to see first-hand that God will meet all of their physical needs while they minister in His Name. Food? He’ll take care of it. Money? You won’t need it. Extra clothing? Unnecessary. If you have a need, it will be met. Because God is just that good.
Keep It Simple, Sister! (Well, that may not be exactly the way you remember it, but you get the idea.)
Jesus’ instructions to the Twelve weren’t very complicated, were they? Not much room for guess-work. Not much room for confusion. The call to ministry – any area of ministry – if it comes from God, is almost always going to be simpler than we thought it would be.
The parameters set by Jesus for this ministry experience were short and sweet:
- You have authority.
- Carry a stick.
- Wear sandals.
- Stay in the first place that makes sense.
- If people listen, keep talking.
- If people don’t listen, walk away and don’t look back.
It’s hard to imagine that Jesus’ youth group could mess this one up! We, on the other hand, make it SO COMPLICATED… Don’t you see that if the details of our ministry boggle our minds, maybe it’s because that ministry is OURS, not GOD’S?
No Drama Queens, Please
Rejection smacks. It hurts! It stings! And it often brings out the worst in us.
Jesus says, don’t take it personally. It isn’t about you. It’s not your concern. Do your best. Speak the truth. That’s your mission – leave it at that.
- If they listen, stay.
- If they don’t listen, leave.
No tears, no heavy sigh, no big scene. No Drama Queens, please.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen some pretty intense theater in the church; some painfully complex ministries; some extremely ‘fat’ program budgets; some terribly bossy followers.
Is it any wonder that what we do instead fails to heal bodies, send demons packing and restore the spirits of the broken?
If we believe that Jesus’ way is best, I don’t understand why we continue to do life (and ministry) our way.