“After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone.”
“I can’t be in two places at one time!” This is the lament of many a leader. We want to be there for the people in our lives, and at the same time we have physical limitations. We want to impact people by being personally involved in so many ministries, and still we have only so much time and energy. We look for ways to maximize and multiply our influence given that we can only be in one place at one time. Our high-tech world provides some wonderful opportunities (like blogging) to broaden our reach. These new technologies have not and cannot replace, however the most important and effective way that we multiply our influence. It is the way Jesus chose.
Jesus, in his incarnation, could minister to only so many people at one time, as well. He took on our physical limitations. While he traveled throughout the land and ministered to many large crowds, he also chose twelve who would be his closest disciples. He allowed them to share in his ministry, training them to do the works he did. Through them he would multiply his presence in the world. He knew that if he could impact a few people in a great way, they in turn would impact a few more, who would impact still more. We see how quickly this plan worked on and after the day of Pentecost.
In Mark 9:2, we find Jesus with only Peter, James, and John. He took these followers who were closest to him, a small, intimate group, away from the rest of the twelve. He took them away from the many other followers who gathered to hear him daily, and away from the press of the crowds who brought their sick to be healed. He brought them, for a brief time, away from the world.
This has important application for leaders and for every follower of Christ. As leaders, we can give ourselves permission to focus our discipleship efforts on a few who are most eager to learn and feel called to service. This doesn’t necessarily mean a new class or program for disciples; we can simply include them intentionally in the things we’re already doing, helping them become involved in whatever ways they can. The most important thing is that we take the time to involve them in our lives and our ministries, so that they can experience what God is doing in and through us. Rather than a formal classroom setting, the extra discipleship time we take will probably be informal, one-on-one or in small conversation groups, working through tough questions with these eager learners. As they grow, they will do many of the things we are doing, and through them we can effectively multiply our impact for Christ on the world.
Jesus’ choice to come apart with a few also has application for every disciple. Regular time alone with the Lord is vital to our spiritual growth. While a daily, brief quiet time can help maintain our relationship with Christ, we can also benefit from larger blocks of time to come apart and be alone with him. If you want to know Jesus more fully, to learn of him more deeply, come apart with him alone for a longer time. "Alone" could be a personal retreat day, or it could be a weekend away with Christian friends focused on prayer and the word. Even an hour sitting beside a quiet stream in the Word and prayer, thinking about Jesus and your relationship with him, can be a small retreat in itself. These are refreshing, spiritually revitalizing, and inspiring times that equip us for our daily lives in the world. They help prepare us, as well, to have a positive spiritual impact on others.
This week, when will you set aside time to be alone with God? Is there another Christian, eager to learn, with whom you can share your walk?