Thursday, November 8, 2012

priority: followers. premium: leaders.

Now the leaders of the people lived in Jerusalem. And the rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of ten to live in Jerusalem the holy city, while nine out of ten remained in the other towns. And the people blessed all the men who willingly offered to live in Jerusalem.
Nehemiah 11:1-2

This was the strategy for repopulating the city of Jerusalem. Now that it had strong walls for the protection of the citizenry, it was time to fill it with homes and families. The solution was simple. Ten percent of the rural population surrounding the city in the hills of Judea would relocate to start new lives in Jerusalem. Volunteers were encouraged and recruited. If enough volunteers did not come from any particular village, lots were cast until that ten percent quota was reached. In this way Jerusalem was resettled.

Nehemiah refused to let Jerusalem be filled with a bureaucracy. Before the resettling, that was the city's condition. It was thinly populated with leaders, priests, government officials, and levites. Nehemiah knew that the average population from the countryside would bring balance to the city. That is why this plan was instituted. And it turned Jerusalem back into the thriving urban center it was meant to be.

You can't be successful only as a city of leaders. Someone has to follow. But idolizing leadership can be a mistake we make about leadership today. There is a tendency in evangelical American Christianity to think that leadership is the goal of discipleship. But following Jesus is the goal of all discipleship. Some of those followers have leadership gifts and may gain titles. Most of them do not. And in "populating" our churches, Christians should realize this. We should train followers and also affirm and grow leaders. But followers are the first priority... disciples of Jesus who are following Him with their lives all around the globe.

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