Sunday, November 7, 2010

Resources, Insources, and Outsources

Several years ago, Dr. Al Sutton of the 6th Avenue Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, spoke to a group of church administrators. D. Sutton used the biblical text of Jesus feeding the 5,000 men (or about 25,000 men, women, and children). It was getting late and the people were hungry. The disciples asked Jesus to send the crowd away. The disciples wanted to outsource the problem but Jesus insisted on "insourcing" the situation. Then the disciples said they didn't have any money and Jesus replied, "what resources do you have and lets see how we can use that." Dr. Sutton thanked us administrators for putting up with pastors who want to imitate Jesus by insourcing problems and by telling the finance people to just use whatever you've got (without fully knowing what there is to begin with). I'm not doing Dr. Sutton justice with this brief paragraph, but you get the idea.

Every day Christians (and non-Christians) ask God to make personal problems go away. If the issue will only disappear, then there won't be a problem, right? We even throw Jesus back at God, "If we have faith the size of a mustard seed, God will solve everything."  God wants us to deal with issues - not run from them. God wants all of God's disciples to get involved, to get our hands dirty, and to "insource" problems. God doesn't outsource - God uses you and me. BTW, I'm not talking about medical, ethical, or legal problems - those have tangible consequences and are a matter of much prayer; sometimes God does intervene in human events in miraculous ways to cure diseases and take care of situations far beyond our powers and require divine resources. But what is within our control, God wants us to confront and deal with directly - not push aside.

Next, Jesus asked about the resources available. All too often we tell God that we don't have enough; that if he'd only provide more we could do more; that the problem is too big for our meager resources. Jesus isn't about what we have - he's about what God has. I don't like it one bit when God tells me to start out on a project when I know that I don't know the way or have the material goods to finish - I even tell God about the parable of the king who went to war without counting the cost. Invariably God tells me to keep going and trust him. I know it sounds corny and trite, but it is true (about trusting God for daily needs - not daily wants).

So here's my stewardship lesson for all who read this - all Christians must get involved using every bit we've got. Asking God to take the issue away won't solve anything. Problems are opportunities for God - stop telling God to take some issue away that you don't want to deal with. Next, use all the resources (time, energy, money) to address the opportunity at hand. As you're in the middle of the issue, you may be surprised to see God at work and multiplying resources more than you thought possible. Or it may be like the disciples, only after the event is over and some time (hours, days, or months) has passed, will you be able to reflect on that event and see how God was at work. But rest assured of this, God is always at work!

Lead On!

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