Less Is More
Given the remarkable impact of Jesus’ ministry, it is worth considering that he spent perhaps 80% of his time with only twelve people, and perhaps 50% of that time with only three of his disciples – Peter, James, and John. And though Jesus regularly spoke to crowds numbering in the hundreds or thousands, the fact that he invested so much of his time in so few people should get our attention. What was he up to?
This past Saturday, at our quarterly Small Group Leaders’ Recharge gathering, Jay Pathak, formerly of Vineyard Columbus, currently senior pastor of Mile High Vineyard in Arvata, Colorado, and author of the book The Art of Neighboring, reminded us of this fact, and encouraged us, in essence, to “pick three” – to prayerfully consider the people in our lives and groups that, more than anyone else, God is calling us to invest in during the season ahead. And once we have determined the three people God is pointing out to us (depending on the contours of your life right now, God may lead you to fewer, or perhaps to more than three), we can then begin to plan and schedule time with them to intentionally give away what God has given us to help them on their way with Jesus.
Jesus was very intentional about those who he chose for his inner circle, and we should be, as well. But of all the people we might choose, who in particular is God actually pointing out to us, and why? The Apostle Paul gives us a clue in 2 Timothy 2:2:
- And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others. (TNIV)
In nearly his last words to his beloved disciple, Timothy, Paul urges Timothy to give away to others what he had repeatedly heard Paul teach to groups that Timothy had been part of. And he told him not merely to entrust these repeated themes to just anyone, but to prioritize giving them to reliable people who were able to teach others. As we consider who God might be calling us to most deeply invest in, we too should have an eye to who is reliable, and who will give away to others what we impart to them.
Doing the Math
As we faithfully invest in a few people who in turn do the same, we in God’s way change the world. If I invest in three people, and each of them invests in three more people, and each of them do the same, I have impacted the lives of twelve people by only directly investing in three. And if we add even one more generation to the tree, I will have impacted 39 people. Add another generation, and it is 120. You get the picture. Multiplication starts small. Think mustard seeds.
So even now, if you have even a few minutes, or sometime very soon, take some time and simply ask God this question: “Lord, of all the people in my life (apart from my immediate family, who I already know I should be investing in), who do you want me to focus my investment on? Who are the two or three people to whom you want me to most intentionally give away what I have to give in helping them on their way with you? Show me, Lord.”
And then pick three, and set a time to meet.