You’ve heard the old saying…
Focusing on the individual and missing the collection.
Sometimes the individual needs more attention than the whole, and we often lose sight of the bigger picture when we focus only on the one.
The One often needs individualized attention, and yet the attention required detracts from the whole. It would be like watering a single tree and not taking care of the whole forest when you job is the entire forest by handling all the individual trees!
The job is often bigger than the ability of the one person’s responsibility. And that is why you divide the job into segments of responsibilities, place someone in charge and manage the manager. This way, you are directing the efforts to many through the work of a few.
Scripture is full of examples, but consider two for the moment.
First, look at Moses after they began to live in the wilderness between deliverance and promise. Moses took on the responsibility of settling disputes, handling problems, and directing the lives of the millions.
The next day Moses sat to judge the people, and the people stood around Moses from morning till evening. When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, “What is this that you are doing for the people? Why do you sit alone, and all the people stand around you from morning till evening?” And Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire of God; when they have a dispute, they come to me and I decide between one person and another, and I make them know the statutes of God and his laws.” (Exodus 18:13-16 ESV)
Why do you sit alone? Because they need me. This is how managers and pastors and company owners feel. “I’m the only one who can do it. Someone needs to do it. SO, if it is to be it is up to me.”
Jethro (Moses’s father-in-law), said… “You cannot do this alone… There is a better way!”
Now obey my voice; I will give you advice, and God be with you! You shall represent the people before God and bring their cases to God, and you shall warn them about the statutes and the laws, and make them know the way in which they must walk and what they must do. Moreover, look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. And let them judge the people at all times. Every great matter they shall bring to you, but any small matter they shall decide themselves. So it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you. (Exodus 18:19-22 ESV)
Divide and conquer … That’s the better way. Manage fewer and let those that are capable manage the others. You are still in charge of everything, but work one on one with the fewer. You are more effective.
Second, consider the role of the disciples surrounding Jesus. They were handpicked. They were trained and given areas of responsibilities. There were three that were the inner circle (Peter, James, John), the holder of the purse strings (Judas), and though it does not appear specific duties were distributed to the others they were all in training to continue the work of Jesus.
And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. (Matthew 10:1-4 ESV)
If you read the remainder of this chapter you will see that Jesus gave them instructions for their immediate action, but also the plan for what their future lives would be like. Preach. Teach. Pray. Heal. Cleanse. Cast out demons.
Important tasks. But notice the closing words of the chapter.
“Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me.
(Matthew 10:40 ESV)
Whoever receives you, receives me… The reverse flow of dominoes. Accepting the lowest of leaders means you are accepting the leadership up the chain.
Accept the one, and you buy into the forest.
This tells me that the one has the power to represent the whole. Think about it for a moment. You, as an individual, represent the whole of who you are a part of. What trickles down from the owner, or leader above, also flows up and outward. It’s simply a pyramid of connectivity that goes both way.
You are not standing alone, lost in the sea of trees. You are part of the forest and yet your individuality stands out as a representative of the whole!
And when you are not equal to the task, you do stand out….
It reveals itself in the midst of whole and healthy trees which represents the forest.
Believe me, you may hide yourself in the crowd… But you do stand out to those who know how to look for healthy trees and forests.\