Last week, I was in the final stages of preparation for the Capital District Young Life benefit. We had just set up the sound system, and I was going over the schedule of the night with our program tech. My assistant Amy walked up to me and showed me the viewfinder screen on her camera, which flickered the image above. She had taken the photo just a minute before, and it is of the teenagers and and college leaders who came to the banquet to help welcome guests. The sight of them praying out in the lobby was an enormous encouragement to me that night, and has served to remind me of a foundational principle of ministry: “People do ministry; develop people.”
In the development work that I do now, I travel to various places in our region to work with people who want to begin new Young Life work, or strengthen what they already have. My temptation, in the name of efficiency, is to meet only with groups of people, and to work on developing the “structures” that Young Life needs to exist in a location. Committees, volunteer leadership teams, and a funding base would be examples of the kinds of “structures” I’m speaking of. A Young Life area needs these structures in place, and it is necessary for me to help build them. However, building these ministry structures is not sufficient. These kinds of structures and teams are made up of individuals. When I look back in ten years, I don’t want to look only at ministry structures that we have built, but I want to be able to also see leaders who have been developed, friends that I have made, and relationships that I value and that have helped me to see Christ better.
The photo above reminds me of this principle, because each of the individuals pictured have been personally invested in and discipled over the last several years. I haven’t been the only one investing and discipling–not by a long shot. But I do know each of them and they are friends that I will hopefully know for a long time. What moved me when I saw the photo is that nobody told them or asked them to pray–they just did it on their own. Their initiative to go before the Father and pray for the guests and for the success of the night is the evidence and fruit of good work done by faithful Young Life leaders. We were in ministry together that night at the banquet, and they reminded me: “People do ministry; develop people.”
Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.
— 1 Thessalonians 2:8 (NIV)