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About this series
How Jesus Chose to Change the World
What does it mean to be a real disciple of Jesus? Through this new series based in the Gospel of Mark, Chip breaks down this complex idea, by using the simple lessons Jesus taught His followers. We'll learn how characteristics like commitment, humility, and trust - set genuine Christ followers apart. Chip helps us better understand how we can avoid sin, grow in our walk with Christ, and just as important, help others mature in their faith as well. Don't miss how real disciples of Jesus, can radically change our world.More from this series
“Give me a fish and I’ll eat for a day. Teach me to fish and I’ll eat for a lifetime.” The way for God to use your life and my life is not by us seeing all the needs of people and doing, doing, doing, doing, doing, doing. The way for your life to really have multiple concentric circle impact over decades is for you to learn what God wants you to learn and then you empower others. The Bible calls it discipleship. Spiritual multiplication. Taking what God has given you and passing it strategically, willfully, in a calculated way to other people with the vision that they in turn will give it to others. And they in turn will give it to others.
I figured this out with a little computer one time. If one Christian reached one other Christian in six months and then they both reached another person in another six months, four people, and then eight, sixteen – in about thirty-two to thirty-five years we could reach the entire population of the earth with the gospel. But unfortunately, the Church seems more committed to addition than multiplication.
What we are going to get to do today is learn how Jesus empowered people, how He gave away the ministry, and how you and I – now, some of you, you’re going to say, “Wait a minute, I’m not, I’m not that involved in ministry.” Think of this through the lens of a parent. If you want to empower your kids, if you want to invest in them; or a small group leader or a friend, some of you can apply this right at your work.
So, let’s roll up your sleeves, open up to Mark chapter 6. This is one of my favorite passages, I’ve got to really get ready for this.
Mark chapter 6 and here we go. We are going to look at three things. First, the prerequisite of empowering people for impact. Second, we are going to look at the process and spend the most of our time there. And third, the product of empowering people for impact.
From verse 34 of chapter 6, “When Jesus landed and saw the large crowd, He had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So He began teaching them many things.” I want to make three observations out of this verse that if it’s not true in my life and your life there’s no use trying to impart what we don’t possess. That just doesn’t work.
Observation number one or the first prerequisite is a personal, authentic walk with God. You can’t give away and I can’t give away what I don’t have. And I get that from the word compassion. See, what I have learned is that some of you feel more deeply or more tenderly than I do or others. But the kind of compassion it’s talking about here only comes from being so in tune with God that you begin to see people the way God sees people.
Compassion is that welling up down deep in your heart where you don’t just feel it, but you feel compelled to do something to meet the need of a person. And that flows out of a personal, intimate, and authentic walk with God.
The second prerequisite I get out of the little phrase, “Like sheep without a shepherd.” When Jesus looked around and He saw, we are going to read that there was five thousand people, men alone. So, if half of them are married and they have one or two children, we are looking at twelve, fifteen, twenty thousand people. There’s a multitude. And He looks at this multitude and His lens is they are like sheep without a shepherd. Well, what does He mean?
Well, it’s like a sheep that is downcast. The sheep can be cast and rolled over and someone has to pick it up or it will die there. Their life doesn’t work. And I think He looked at their eyes and He said, “Their marriages don’t work. They don’t know how to discipline their kids. Their lives aren’t prioritized. They are lonely, they are depressed, they are discouraged. Their lives, they don’t have truth, they don’t know how to live it and so it’s falling apart.” And so, they are like sheep without a shepherd.
The second prerequisite is a passion to be used by God.
Looking at the world and having not just a conviction, but a passion that you can be a vehicle to step into the lives of these people and touch them and teach them how marriages work, and show them how to discipline their children and show them how to overcome loneliness and depression and struggle and insecurity like we all have.
The third thing I get from Jesus’ response when He saw this, He did what would do the most good. He began teaching them many things.
And the third prerequisite is a growing grasp of the Word of God.
And when I say a “grasp of the Word of God” I don’t mean just an intellectual knowledge. I don’t mean just being in a Bible study. I mean where you get to know this Book so that when a person comes to you and says, “My marriage is falling apart. I don’t know what to do! She does this, I say this, I did this, we try and talk, it doesn’t work.” And where you look at them and say, “Look.” And you open up to Ephesians chapter 4 and you walk them through a godly pattern of communication and conflict resolution.
Or they say, “I’m depressed and I’m struggling,” and you take them to Genesis chapter 6 and you open it up and you say, “Look. See this fella? His face was downcast. He was depressed. Here’s what God’s admonition was to him.” And this isn’t working and that isn’t working where you can take God’s Word and apply it to areas of people’s lives that give them hope and truth and life and love.
Now, before you turn off your button and say, “Gosh, I don’t know the Bible that well. This sermon must not be for me. This is a prerequisite. I don’t…” If you know one verse, you know one verse more than someone else. And if you’re practicing two verses, you now have two things to share, okay?
God is not asking you to be mister all-knowing or miss all-knowing or have it all together. He is saying, If you’ll walk with Me authentically, and if you’ll have a passion for lost and hurting people, get in the Scriptures and share what you do know and I’ll use it.
Now, how do you pull that off? What is the process? How do you “disciple” others? How do you reproduce your life?
Ken Blanchard became a Christian after he wrote The One Minute Manager. If you want a great, I mean, a great book on how to make disciples, it’s The One Minute Manager. We got to talk to him at a conference afterwards and he said, “You know, after I became a Christian and I read through the gospels and I studied the life of Christ,” he said, “I just by chance happened on what Jesus does.” He talks about four quadrants. He says, “First of all, you give people direction or information.” This is what you need to do. He says, “Then you teach them how. You coach them.” You do it, they watch, and you do it with them.
Third, you give them support. They do it and you watch them and you support them. Finally, you delegate. You give them the job. That’s the pattern. It’s a biblical pattern. What you’re going to see is that Jesus, in two miracles, is going to teach how to coach, then He’s going to teach how to support.
The first miracle will have to do with five thousand people who get fed and Jesus will coach the disciples on what does a shepherd have to do. What’s the need in this passage? He sees all these people; what’s the need? They need a shepherd! So, what is He going to do? He’s going to develop twelve shepherds. And eleven of the twelve are going to do a good job. Because He knows, unlike us, that in three years, He’s checking out. And if they can’t do the job when He leaves, the movement has a problem. But He developed great shepherds who could coach, support, and then delegate.
And so, the first miracle with the five thousand, we are going to learn how to coach people, how to give away our faith and feed them spiritually. And the second miracle, we are going to learn how to lead people, how to teach them how to make decisions, how to overcome adversity, and how they can begin to impact other people.
Well, let’s start. Verse 35. By this time it’s late, there are thousands of people. “It was late in the day, so His disciples came to Him.” This is interesting. They are taking initiative. They are growing. “‘This is a remote place,’ they said, ‘and it’s already very late.’” That’s a good observation, men. Here’s their analysis and their suggestion, verse 36.
“Send the people away so they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” Now, the good news of this so far is the disciples, remember, they got to preach. They have healed some people. Cast out a few demons. They feel like they are on the team. And now there’s a big group and they see a need and they are taking initiative. That’s wonderful.
But, see, when you want to develop people, any time they come to you, whether it’s your son or whether it’s your daughter or someone in your small group or a friend that looks to you spiritually, any time they come with a suggestion or a question, you know what that’s called? A teachable moment. It’s a chance for you to develop and stretch them. And you need to be thinking this way.
So Jesus takes the teachable moment, verse 37, good developers then give a timely challenge. “But He answered them,” emphatically, “You give them something to eat.” In the original language, “You” should be over here and is pulled to the front of the sentence to say, “You give them something to eat.”
And they are scratching their head. Now notice their analysis. “They said to Him,” now, no way, man. That’s a little loose. He says, “That would take eight months of a man’s wages. Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?”
In other words, “That’s – I’m sorry, Jesus. One, it’s impractical. Two, it’s illogical. Three, we don’t have the resources. There’s no way we can do it.” And, see, when you are trying to develop people, whether it’s a son or a daughter, a friend, a small group leader, what they tend to do is always look at their lack of resources. And what your job in developing a person’s life spiritually is to help them focus on what they have instead of what they don’t have.
See, human nature is we always focus on what we don’t have. You know, we start this big thing, we don’t have enough money, “I’d help so-and-so, but I don’t know enough.” We always focus on what we don’t have. So, let’s see what He does.
He forces them to focus, verse 38, on what they have. “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” So, they go do some research. “When they found out, they said, ‘Five – and two fish.’”
Five little barley loaves, they were small pancake size – not very big – and two small fish. So, He has redirected their focus, now He is going to organize for success. Listen to how He does it, verse 39. You see, people who are developing never think about what is going to happen because they don’t have a lot of faith. People who are developing others, they organize for the success and what God is going to do in advance. And what that communicates to the people they are helping is, “Oh, yeah, this is going to work.”
See, when you coach people, what they need more than skill is confidence. Can you imagine the confidence? There are twenty thousand people out there and you’ve got these little loaves and two little fish and Jesus says to us, pretend you’re His disciple, “Okay, I’d like all of you to have all the people to sit down in groups on this green grass. Have them sit in groups of hundreds and fifties.”
And we are thinking, Why? We don’t have any food. See, He organizes for success. “Taking the five loaves and the two fish, looking up to the heaven, He gives thanks and He broke the loaves.”
Now He models dependency. See, what we don’t want to communicate to people is, “Yeah, hey, I know how to do it! You just watch me.” What is Jesus, the Son of God, modeling? “Hey, it’s not Me.” As being fully man and fully God, as fully God it was Him. But He breaks the loaves and expresses His dependency that if I will take what you guys give Me, and if I will offer it to God, the issue isn’t how much you have to bring. The issue is are you willing to bring what you have and offer it and make it available to God and let Him multiply it any way He would choose?
So, He models that dependency and let’s find out what happens. “Then He gave them to the disciples and set before the people. He also divided the two fish among them all.” Verse 42, here it happens, “They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve baskets of broken pieces of bread and fish. The number of men” – the word here for, it’s not a generic word for men and women; it’s the word for just men – “who had eaten was five thousand.”
This is one of the few miracles that is in all four gospels. And it was very impressive. They all remembered it. They all recorded it. And so, notice the last thing He does. It’s the goal of coaching. The goal of coaching isn’t that people think you’re a great coach. What’s the goal of coaching? Winning! How do you become a winner, spiritually? You become a winner, spiritually, when the people you are helping, whether it’s your son or your daughter, a cousin, someone who is just casually that you know, or someone in a real semi-official discipling relationship, you are a winner when they can do what you can do.
Who gets to have the success in this story? Jesus knows He can multiply fish. Jesus knows He can do miracles. Who needs to have the successful experience? The disciples. What does the text say? They passed it out. God used them. See, most of us really don’t believe God could use us. We really don’t believe that deep in our heart.
You know what Jesus wanted to coach them to learn? God can use an ordinary guy like you. An ordinary guy like me. And we would say, “Yeah, I don’t have the resources.” Why do you think this story is in the Bible? How much do you have? Not much. Great, that’s what I need. Isn’t that what He’s saying?
This fellow named Jack King, he’s involved in sports ministry with Athletes in Action, does a lot of baseball teams around the world. And Jack has got the gift of evangelism. I mean, when we were on a bus, he shares Christ with this guy, this guy, this guy. I mean, I saw him lead, you know, two weeks he led maids to Christ, bus drivers to Christ.
And he did it in a winsome way. I mean, not offensive at all. And, but he had a little plan. I watched him do it two or three times. He would share Christ; I remember on a bus this one time. And this guy, and I was about two seats back and kind of listening. And the guy is just ready to become a Christian. Guess what Jack does. I mean, I’m thinking, close the deal, man! Close the deal! Go!
You know what he does? He stops. He says, “Excuse me just a second.” He said, “Hey, Jimmy, come on up here, will you, for a second?” And this young college sophomore comes up, sits down with him, he – I mean, I’m thinking, Hey Jack, I don’t know much about evangelism but the guy is ready to become a Christian. What are you, you know?
And he brings this guy, he introduces him, lets him talk a few minutes, and then he turns to Jimmy and says, “You know, I’ve explained to him and he’s really interested in becoming a Christian. Could you talk with him a little bit? I think that he’ll be ready to pray and receive Christ here soon.” He says, “I’ll be back in just a second.” He would go to the back of the bus.
Five or ten minutes later, Jimmy is bowing his head with this guy. Guess what, Jimmy has led his first person to the Lord. See, Jack King understands. He has led hundreds of people to Christ. Does he need to learn how? What is he doing? He’s multiplying his life. You want God to use you? Multiply your life. That’s how you do it.
Out of this passage in how to coach people to multiply your life, one, remember this: Accomplishing tasks is less important than developing people. If you wanted two words to remember it: Grow people. It’s more important that your son or daughter learns something than the garage gets absolutely clean or that the floor is spotless or that the tub doesn’t have any residue or ring.
It’s more important that the small group gets a chance to lead. See, develop people. Grow people. You’ll get the task done, but accomplishing tasks is less important than developing people. Because there are always a lot of tasks, but there are very few people who really want to grow.
Number two, ability is always less important than availability. It’s not what you can do that is crucial, it’s what God can do through you. So, get others involved. The focus is grow people. The method is get other people involved. Don’t go anyplace alone. Don’t pray alone. I mean, you know, except for your private time. If you’re going to share Christ, bring a friend. If you’re going to pray, if you’re involved in anything, bring people. Get them involved and they will catch it.
Third, resources are always less important than reliance. You’ll never have enough. We take the steps and God provides. My philosophy of leadership is get the snowball rolling downhill and as it picks up speed, try and decide where it ought to go. Because my observation is in people’s lives and organizations and churches, most of them never get the snowball off the hill. “Eh, it needs to rain a little bit more, I don’t think it’ll pack quite right. Well, about three miles down there’s a turn; we don’t know how we’re going to turn.” So what? Get it going. Resources are always less important than reliance. Bring what you have to God and He will do something.
The strategy is build on what you have. Focus is to grow people, the method is get others involved, the strategy: Build on what you have, not on what you don’t have.