Graduation. Does the church ever graduate anyone? Schools and workplaces have systems in place to help people progress in their intellectual and professional growth. So what are we doing as church leaders to help people know if they’re ready to “graduate” spiritually? In this fourth post in my Leadership 101 Series for Christian Women, I’ll show you how Jesus’ model for ministry gives us a pattern for helping people succeed in their journey toward spiritual growth.
Leadership Principle No. 4: Great leaders intentionally provide processes that move others toward success.
Matthew 10 shows us one of the boldest things Jesus ever did: he delegated his ministry to others!
Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. . . . These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 10:1, 5-6 NRSV)
In Matthew 5-7, we heard Jesus deliver his message to his disciples. In Matthew 8-9, we walked alongside Jesus as he demonstrated his method to his disciples showing them how his power and grace and mercy could overcome any barrier. Now, in Matthew 10, His disciples were ready for their mid-term exam. Jesus knew they were not ready for the “go-into-all-the-world” final exam, yet he wanted to give them a taste of success in familiar territory–among the Jews, their own people, and not yet among the Gentiles.
Leadership Practice No. 4: Christ-following women leaders purposefully foster spiritual growth in others by guiding them through attainable steps toward measurable goals that help them see their progress.
After Jesus identified those ready for the next step, we can see in Matthew 10 how he set them up for success by:
- Giving them specific responsibilities and the authority to fulfill them.
- Providing instructions and expectations, ones he knew they could accomplish.
- Being honest in his warnings about any challenges or difficulties he knew they would face.
- Reminding them of the reward awaiting them.
He gave them tasks that helped them see their own progress. We get a glimpse in Luke 10 of Jesus’ reaction to the disciples after another time he sent out 70 of them on a similar mission:
The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!” He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. See, I have given you authority. . . . Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit.” (Luke 10:17-19a, 21a)
These opportunities for spiritual success were accomplished while Jesus was still physically with them. He was training them with confidence so they could fulfill their ultimate mission when he would no longer be physically present with them. He knew the stages of development they needed to experience before they “graduated” to go into all the world.
Leadership Promise No. 4:
“Those who lose their life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:39b NRSV)
“Then turning to the disciples, Jesus said to them privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.” (Luke 10:23-24 NRSV)
Leadership Proposal for Women:
Who are you setting up for spiritual success? Identify someone you can bring along with you to give her more responsibilities and the authority to fulfill them. Be intentional by providing some opportunities for her to see her own spiritual growth and then listen to the results with great expectations and joy.
Who has helped you grow spiritually? Did they have a method or a process that tracked your progress? Please share your experiences or questions in the Comments section . . .