February 10, 2021 • Life for Leaders
Scripture – Luke 10:1, 8-9, 16 (NRSV)
After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go.
“Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’”
“Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.”
One of the amazing things about Jesus was his willingness to delegate to others many of the core activities of his kingdom work. Jesus enlisted his disciples in the work of proclaiming and manifesting the reign of God. He empowered them to preach and to heal. We can learn from Jesus how to delegate to others even as we also acknowledge that he has delegated the work of the gospel to us.
Today’s devotion is part of the series Following Jesus Today.
When we think of the messianic ministry of Jesus, we understandably focus on him and all that he did. We rightly acknowledge the uniqueness of his calling and activity. But by emphasizing the uniqueness of Jesus’s efforts, we can miss the fact that he was also a delegator. He assigned to others to do and say some of the amazing things he did and said.
We saw this first in Luke 9, where Jesus called together the innermost circle of his disciples. To them he gave “power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases” (9:1). Then he “sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal” (9:2). Yet Jesus did not delegate his kingdom work only to the twelve disciples who were closest to him. In Luke 10 he appointed seventy of his other disciples to go out to various towns and cure the sick while preaching the presence of the kingdom (10:1, 8-9). Thus, when we picture Jesus at work as the Messiah, we must include his work of delegation to at least 82 people.
Notice that those Jesus sent out were not mainly serving as an advance team, as I noted yesterday. Political advance teams get things ready for the candidate, but don’t make speeches or act as candidates do. Jesus authorized his representatives to do what he did in ministry. Even the seventy, who were preparing the way for Jesus, were authorized to preach and heal. (Later, we learn they also had the authority to cast out demons; see Luke 10:17). Jesus did what all good delegators must do, conferring authority, transferring responsibility, and conferring trust.
The fact that Jesus delegated in this way shouldn’t come as a complete surprise to us because this is the sort of thing God does with important tasks. In Genesis 1, for example, God created the heavens and the earth, declaring them to be good. Then God created human beings in God’s own image, charging them with the task of making sure the earth is productive and well-cared for (see Genesis 1:27-29, also Genesis 2:15). Similarly, in Matthew 28 Jesus entrusted to his followers the formidable task of making disciples “of all nations” (28:19). Talk about delegation!
The example of Jesus the delegator speaks to us in at least two ways. First, it challenges us to imitate Jesus’s work of delegation. Whether in the workplace, at home, in church, or in our volunteer work, we should seek to enlist the help of others, learning to empower, encourage, and trust them. We need to be wise when we do this, of course. But we mustn’t let our ego needs get in the way of our own acts of delegation.
Second, the example of Jesus reminds us that he has delegated his kingdom mission, not only to those who followed him in person, but also to those of us who follow him from a distance. We have inherited the work that Jesus once gave to his first disciples, namely, to make more disciples. We do this in a multiplicity of ways and contexts as we seek to serve the Lord through serving others in his name.
Are you good at delegating to others? If so, why? If not, why not?
Many Christians picture Jesus as a “lone ranger” in the work of the kingdom. Why do you think this is? Why do we overlook Jesus’s delegation of ministry to others?
Do you feel and act as if Jesus has delegated the ministry of the gospel to you? If so, why? If not, why not?
Talk with Jesus about what he has delegated to you and what this means for your life.
Lord Jesus, today I’m struck by your willingness to enlist others in the ministry of the kingdom. You weren’t the only one who preached and healed. In fact, you delegated to your disciples these tasks.
Your example challenges me to take a fresh look at my life. Am I delegating to others that which should be shared? Or am I holding on too tightly to what you have entrusted to me? Forgive me, Lord, when my ego or insecurity or perfectionism gets in the way of growing your kingdom work through others.
Lord, I’m also reminded today that you delegated the work of your kingdom to your disciples, calling them to make more disciples. I stand in that line, an inheritor of your commandment. Help me, Lord, to be faithful in doing the kingdom work you have delegated to me, whether at home or at work, in my neighborhood or in my church. Amen.
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Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Commentary on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Relationships and Work (Genesis 1:27; 2:18, 21-25)
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.