True Discipleship and Micromanaging

Let me start off by confessing that I can tend to micromanage people, if I'm not careful. Not all micromanagers are evil tyrants. Some of them don't even realize they're micromanaging; they just want to be helpful. My problem is that I think I'm being helpful when, in fact, I'm hurting the process of discipleship. I want to take a moment to share with you what I've come to learn about micromanaging and why true discipleship does away with micromanaging and actually ends up bringing about better results in your church and how it keeps you from going insane with anxiety.

In Matthew 9, Jesus is doing His usual thing. He's going through the towns and cities healing diseases, casting out demons, and teaching the truth about God. At the end of chapter 9, He sees that He has attracted a multitude of people following Him. At this time, He looks to His disciples and tells them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest." Jesus realizes that one man cannot take care of everyone. He needs more willing laborers to go out into the harvest. Most of us realize that the harvest is those who are lost, or not followers of Jesus. The laborers are supposed to be Christians. Jesus saw a lack of laborers as a problem then, and I'm sure He would see it as a problem now.

The old statistic is that 20 percent of the people do 80 percent of the work. I know that's true most of the time, but I don't think that it is supposed to be true in the church. Paul wrote in his letter to the Ephesians,

Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love (Eph. 4:15-16).

Paul said that when each part (every person) is working together, we grow and build one another up in love. So why are we not working? Why are the laborers few? The answer boils down to one of two things:  (1) we're not working, and (2) we're not teaching others how to work. For the purpose of this article, I want to deal with the second problem. In Matthew 28, Jesus told His disciples and us that we are supposed to go into all the world making disciples, "teaching them to observe (do) all that (He has) commanded (us) Matt. 28:19." And Paul wrote in Ephesians that Jesus, "gave (us) the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ (Eph. 4:11-12)." 

So if we are supposed to be teaching others to do the work as well, why aren't we? I'll tell you why. We are micromanaging or just not trying to teach at all. Many times we try to pick people we feel would do well in a ministry. We place them in that ministry and say, "Go for it." We never sit down with them and share our vision. We never let them watch us serve, so that they can learn how to serve. Most of the time we just use them as a puppet, or we bypass them all together and do it ourselves. The problem is if we do it ourselves, then the people who were supposed to be serving feel useless. So why do we micromanage or puppeteer our people? Maybe we want it done our way or maybe we're afraid they don't care about the task as much as we do. We're afraid that that particular ministry will fail if we are not fully involved. Therefore the reason only a few serve or the reason why 20 percent of the people do 80 percent of the work, is because the 20 percent won't teach anyone how to help them do the 80 percent of the work, and the 80 percent don't feel like they are actually useful or needed.

How do we fix this? We disciple people. I heard a good friend of mine, Tommy Swindoll, share his heart for discipleship recently. He shared that even with something as simple as setting up chairs for a class, we should disciple our helpers. He put it somewhat like this. The first week you ask someone to watch you set up chairs. The second we you have that person help you set up chairs, and you go back behind them and fix some of the mistakes while encouraging them. The third week, you let them set up the chairs making sure they are still doing it the right way. And by the fourth week you have a disciple who is setting up chairs, who can train someone else to help them set up chairs if they need to do so. That's discipleship. If we teach and show people how important their ministry is to God, they they will want to do it to the best of their ability. Setting up chairs may not seem very important, but people need a place to sit when they come together to study God's word. Even something that simple has value to the kingdom. Because it is God's work, your disciples tend to care more about it, therefore they aren't going to give up on it and let it fall to the wayside.

So in the end if we choose to truly disciple instead of micromanage, then we will have more people serving, and the all the work will be done better. Nobody will be stretched too thin because the 20 percent won't be trying to do 80 percent of the work. So instead of doing the work of the kingdom by ourselves, let's train others to do the work with us. As we disciple those who are already in our church, we will move ourselves one step closer to every member ministering together.

If you have found this post encouraging or helpful, share it with your friends and join us on Sunday mornings at 11:00 as we continue our series, Every Member Ministry.