Focusing on a Few

By Rev. Tim Yee

October 29, 2017

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him.

Mark 1:17-18


A few people shown through a tunnel that separates them from everything else.I recently updated my Mentoring Diagram—a leadership tool developed by Dr. Bobby Clinton. I won’t go into all the details of this simple exercise, but it includes writing down a list of people I’m purposely influencing for the next year. For example, I’m bringing on Joe as a ministry apprentice to learn about pastoral leadership, spending time with Dan to help shape his administrative capacities, and meeting with Danika to regularly encourage her in the children’s ministry. I narrowed this list down to twenty people, and I tried really hard to get it down to a more manageable twelve. But even in my small church, I could easily name a couple dozen more who could have been included. Some of them are going to be disappointed to not be on this list of people I’m intentionally investing in. Even though I risk disappointing some wonderful people, the ministry will suffer if I fail to focus on investing in a few.

The idea of disappointing your followers was discussed in my last post, and the reality is that when you focus on a few, there are going to be some who are disappointed that they weren’t chosen. But good leadership isn’t driven by pleasing people and meeting needs. Good leaders must make difficult decisions that often make some happy while disappointing others, and this can be even more pronounced when it comes to developing leaders.

If we study Jesus’ leadership, we will see that his investment in a few key people was a core strategy for his short three-year ministry. Beyond the diverse group of twelve that included tax collectors, zealots, fishermen, and even a betrayer, Jesus also invested in women and religious leaders. But even though he chose to invest in a diverse group of people, he didn’t choose to invest in a large group of people. He chose to focus on a few instead of meeting the needs and desires of the crowd.


Do you make a specific leadership development plan that focuses on a few instead of the crowd? Can you name these leaders you will be investing in this year? Do you know specifically how you will be investing in their leadership?

Does your organization have a development plan that lets people know how to grow toward advancement and opportunities?

What are some ways you can continue to encourage those who weren’t chosen to be in your inner circle? Do you have other leaders who can focus on their development? Are there any team dynamics that need to be addressed in your organization that might be related to the issue of those who feel inside and those who feel outside?


Father, you know my heart. I want to be a good leader who helps the most people. But I don’t want to succumb to simple crowd-pleasing to satisfy their needs or my own insecurities. Help me to have the courage to focus on a few, believing that leadership development is more important than other metrics that merely have the appearance of lasting growth. Use me to develop a diverse group of leaders who have increasing capacities to help others to grow. Show me when to focus on fewer even though that means that others will disappointed. Encourage me when I disappoint myself. Amen.


Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentaryThe Calling of the First Disciples (Mark 1:16-20)

Rev. Tim Yee

Contributor Emeritus & Pastor

Rev. Tim Yee is Pastor of Union Church of Los Angeles, a 100-year-old church in downtown L.A.’s Little Tokyo District where he serves a diverse church of professionals, internment camp survivors, artists and homeless. He serves on the Board of Union Rescue Mission where he leads the P...

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