Hey there, my name Kevin Kloster, I am the district superintendent in the Southwest District. We are continuing our journey through Jim Harnish’s book, “Make a Difference”. This week I will explore chapter four with you. To sort of dig into this chapter I want to talk about the Lone Ranger. It’s an old television show with a recent movie in 2013.
When I was much younger I used to watch the TV show The Lone Ranger. He got his name, “The Lone Ranger”, because he was the lone survivor of six Texas rangers who were ambushed in Bryant’s Gap by the Cavendish gang. An Indian named Tonto found the lone ranger alive and nursed him back to health. The Lone Ranger’s brother, Daniel Reid, also a Texas Ranger, was killed in the ambush. To conceal his identity and honor his fallen brother, the Lone Ranger fashions a black mask from the material of his brother's vest and takes on the role of one who helps people and fights for justice. These things became his passion. His reason for being. He would honor his brother’s life by making a difference in the lives of others.
The Lone Ranger has become an American icon. He has become an icon, not because of his pursuit for justice or the kindness he offered people in need but, because his name symbolizes a way of life that says, “I got this. I can do it alone. I don’t need help from others. I am a lone ranger.” But let’s not forget that even the Lone Ranger had Tonto. He really didn’t go alone.
James Harnish in his book, “Make a Difference”, reminds us that Jesus didn’t send out his disciples to be lone rangers rather, “He sent them on ahead in pairs. Sending them out like sheep among wolves.” The apostle Paul carried on this tradition by going out, not alone, but with people like John Mark, Barnabas, Silas, Timothy and others. The work of transforming the world or even just making a difference in our family, our church, our community is often challenging. Ministry is hard. Jesus knew that. It is why going together is far better than going alone.
Harnish writes, “When set out to participate in God transformation of the world we soon discover that we can’t do it alone. The challenges are too big, the injustice is too entrenched, the evil too pervasive, and our individual efforts too inadequate to think we could set things right on our own. The good news is that we don’t have to! God never intended for any of us to make the long journey toward justice, reconciliation, and peace on our own. God intends for us to make a difference together.”
When we go together we find support, care, encouragement, and motivation when times become difficult, when challenges persist, when persecution sets in, when the dark night of the soul weighs heavy and in our discouragement or defeat we want to give up.
We are stronger together for as Eugene Peterson paraphrases Ecclesiastes 4:12, “By yourself you’re unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst. Can you round up a third? A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped.” Friends, what we need is not more lone rangers but more people who invite others to join them in the transformative work of God. Not just so we can have support in challenging or discouraging times but because part of being a disciple is raising up other disciples. It is about leadership development.
I believe that’s what Jesus was doing when he sent people out in pairs and what Paul was doing when he brought someone with him on his journeys through Greece and Asia Minor. In week one of our study, in Harnish’s book, “Make a Difference”, you were invited to awaken the call within you to serve. In week two, you were encouraged to discern the place God wants you to serve. In week three, you were challenged to get off the pew and do something. This week’s study instructs you to bring someone else with you on this journey.
For example, maybe you serve at a local food pantry. Next time you go bring someone with you and give them the opportunity to minister to others. Perhaps you volunteer at a shelter for homeless people. Next time you go bring someone with you and step-by-step show them what you do and then let them do it. Maybe God’s call on your life is teaching a Bible study. Next time you teach identify a person who can lead and start pouring into them so that they can lead a Bible Study. It could be you like visiting people in the nursing home. The next time you go bring another person with you and teach them how to visit, nurture their ability to care for others, and then, in time, release them to do this on their own encouraging them to find someone else to bring with them. Sustainable ministry always involves people multiplying themselves so that more and more people serve.
Dale Hudson, a children’s ministry expert, has a 7-step process for developing leaders that I have adapted a bit. First, identify someone who shares the same passion as you do. Second, invite them to come with you the next time you serve. Third, inspire them, help them to see the gifts God has given them. Align those gifts with the area of service you are inviting them to help with. Four, invest in them. Don’t let them just show up and try to figure it out on their own, pour into them. Spend time helping them get ready to serve by pouring into them what you know. Fifth, involve them. Give them hands-on experience. Let them get their hands dirty. Let them do something. Sixth, instruct them. Give them feedback on how they are doing. Pat them on the back for what they do well and offer gentle correction for what they could do better. Then get out of the way and let them do their thing. Finally, instill in them the values of multiplication so, that they go and find someone else who will go with them. Then you go and find someone else who will go with you.
I hope, if you haven’t already, that you find your passion, your call, and then go and serve – but don’t go alone. Remember, the Lone Ranger didn’t go it alone – he had Tonto. Identify your Tonto or Tontos and invite them with you: inspire them, invest in them, involve them, instruct them, instill in them. Before long, more and more people will be engaged in the transformative work of God, bringing light where there is darkness, making a difference that brings forth the kingdom of God on earth. Go together!
Find a Microsoft Word version of the bulletin insert here.
Join us this Lent. Click here for ideas on how to join the study. The videos are posted here. Tell the stories of what happens as you engage in the practices outlined by posting on social media with the hashtag #DakotasMakeaDifference!