Who am I investing in?

Training up new leaders is an essential part of what I do. When I stand before God someday and own all of my life decisions, I will be more concerned with how well I molded future pastors and leaders rather than how many people I got to sit together in a room once a week. A healthy organization trains up new leaders through their own system. A church must train new leadership from within, or else it is doomed to become a place marked by aging members that look back fondly on “the good old days” when the music was great, the seats full, and “young people” were in abundance.

Today’s tragedy is that so many ministries focus on putting out a product crowds will consume in large quanities than take the time and effort to invest in individuals. The result can lead to mindset of consumer driven ministry, and consumer minded churchgoers. The problem? Consumers just consume. How many times have you heard a churchgoer complain that the band doesn’t sound a certain way, the pastors don’t do something they need to do, and the classic: “They just aren’t feeding me.” This is where investing in future leaders can be the difference between a room full of consuming critics, and a church full of like-minded disciples.

No leader can invest in everyone; we have to make decisions about how we spend our time. I can’t speak about how every leader decides who to invest in. I can comment how I select people to invest in. You just don’t have enough time to oversee everyone on a one to one basis, plain and simple. Deciding who NOT to invest in is of equal importance as well. Here are some of my personal rules:

Who I DO NOT invest in:

Those who constantly complain.
You know who they are; chances are your entire group does. Hopefully it isn’t you.

Someone that doesn’t take advice.
Did you ever know someone that has sought out advice from several people, but listens to none of it? More than wasting your time, they’re not interested in your advice unless it reinforces the decisions they’ve already made.

Someone who doesn’t know their own neighbors.
Get to know the people God Himself placed where you live each and every day. You are in their neighborhood for the purpose of the Gospel. Everything you own, all your gifts and talents, your connections, your job, and your bank account exist for the Gospel. Do you want your current and future church leaders to be people disconnected from the world around them? Take advantage of every opportunity. The place you live is the most commonly reccurring, repeating venue for the Gospel to be shared. I free up a lot of my schedule for guys who get this. I pour my life into them.

Someone who doesn’t want to be invested in.
I know we all love a feel-good story about a rebel who has a coach/teacher/leader that invests in them with tough love and works day and night to mold them until that rebel becomes a success like runner up league champion or the president of the USA. However, chances are you have so many people crying out for your attention that you’ll need to make some critical choices. Choose wisely; don’t let someone with a great attitude and a hunger to learn sit the bench in order to simply pay attention to the loudest, stinkiest, crying baby in the nursery.

Who I invest in:

The Bad Kids:
Because they will never meet the expectations of the legalists, and they will never get a chance to grow in a consumer driven ministry. Sometimes the young guys with baggage turn out to be leaders and evangelists. They are works in progress; the word “progress” here is key. They drink, they smoke, the might even swear, and the consumers many times fall all over themselves condemning these guys. I’ll take a young, immature, flawed guy seeking God over a mature, polished, self-righteous jerk any day. Keep your phony smile; give me a young guy filled with angst and passion. God can do anything. Aren’t these the leaders we all yearn for?

The “Not as Talented as some other guy.”
It is interesting how we rate people in churches. Sometimes the most faithful people get overlooked for someone that has exceptional musical talent, a bigger paycheck, and a stunning physical appearance. But it is FAITHFULNESS, not SUCCESS, that God is after. Give me an average person who is faithful to the Gospel over someone who has looks, talent, and a life focused entirely on their personal gain.

2-6The servant grew up before God—a scrawny seedling,
a scrubby plant in a parched field.
There was nothing attractive about him,
nothing to cause us to take a second look.
He was looked down on and passed over,
a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand.
One look at him and people turned away.
We looked down on him, thought he was scum.
But the fact is, it was our pains he carried—
our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us.
We thought he brought it on himself,
that God was punishing him for his own failures.
But it was our sins that did that to him,
that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins!
He took the punishment, and that made us whole.
Through his bruises we get healed.
We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost.
We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way.
And God has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong,
on him, on him. (Isaiah 53:2-6, The Message)

Someone who isn’t a consumer.
Did you ever ask someone why they go to church where they do? You generally hear about how much they enjoy listening to a teacher, how hip the music is, and how well that organization meets someone’s needs. When you find that rare individual that is a part of something in order to invest in others as opposed to what they get out of it personally and professionally, you have scored. Invest in that person.

Someone who wants to be like Jesus, and make Him known.
When it comes down to it, I invest in people who are trying day by day to be molded into a reflection of Jesus Christ.

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