A few years back, I went through an extremely rough year, dealing with all kinds of things. Around October, I experienced something rare, for me: I got sick. In my entire life, I’d never been sick for more than a few hours. Unfortunately, at the same time, a friend died. I was angry about the circumstances of his death, and, even though I was already starting to feel weird, I flew out the California for the funeral.
I was in bad shape. I couldn’t walk, I ended up massively dehydrated, and when I got home and went to the doctor, I was told I had pneumonia, damaged lungs, severe dehydration, and would need a follow-up CT scan to check on me. It was awesome, but what I wanted to understand was how I got so sick in the first place. I know it wasn’t the Lord. I began to reevaluate different areas of my life and wanted to know how I got to the place where the thing could attach itself to me.
I came to realize that, in some areas, I had gotten prideful. In my arrogance, I started acting like the rules that applied to everyone didn’t apply to me. To be honest, if a minister underneath me had made the choices I made, I would have been angry with him. I began to have a realization — nothing was a new revelation. It was getting back to what I already know.
Much of what I learned comes from John 6, where Jesus feeds the five thousand men with five loaves of barley and two small fish. The miracle of the multiplied food is incredible, but I want to talk about what happened after they found out how many people they had to feed.
“Then Jesus said, ‘Make the people sit down.’ Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks, He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down…” (v10-11a).
Take a look at who got to eat. The ones they fed were the ones sitting down. I’ve been in ministry for more than 20 years, and in my experience, if you’ve got a few thousand people you tell to sit, you’ll get a pretty good amount that doesn’t want to sit down. However, the only people who got to eat were the ones who had been obedient and were sitting down.
Feed the people who listened first, who were obedient first, and who were sitting down. Don’t spend all of your energy convincing someone to sit down so they can be fed; they’ll sit when they get hungry enough. Leaders often waste a lot of energy convincing people to sit down. If you’re that leader, stop chasing and convincing someone. And if you’re the person who doesn’t want to sit: try taking a seat. You might not like it at first, but sometimes we don’t know how good the food is until we listen and do as we’re told.
Article 2: Compassion vs. Pity — and How you Spend Your Time
A few years ago, when I got a bad case of pneumonia, I started looking at reasons why I’d gotten so very sick. I began asking the Lord and was presented with a realization of some lessons I already knew about pride — and the way I’m using my energy.
The first lesson was from John 6 and showed me the importance of giving food to the people who were being obedient. Jesus told the people to sit down and then told the disciples to feed the people who were sitting down. If someone didn’t sit, Jesus didn’t run up to them, pleading with them to sit down.
In another instance, a rich young ruler asked Jesus how he could have eternal life. Jesus gave him a clear answer, and the young man sadly turned and walked away. Jesus gave him the answer. Jesus gave him the help he wanted. But when he didn’t take it, Jesus didn’t chase after him, asking him to reconsider.
Sometimes, we have a tendency to chase people who don’t want the help, when there are plenty of others who are not just soaking up the teaching like a sponge but are taking it and applying it in their lives. You’ll accomplish much more for the kingdom with someone who will replicate and do something with the teachings. Look for the people who are sitting down. Identify them and pour into them.
Remember, these should be the people who are sitting down. You’ll have people who say that will sit down. That doesn’t mean that they are sitting down. You’ll have people calling and begging you to help them. Once, while I was helping someone as much as I was able, the person came back and asked me why I wasn’t helping. I asked this person to think about what help would look like — and the answer was, I don’t know.
How do you know I’m not helping you, then? The person doesn’t need pity. The person needs compassion, and there is a big difference.
Pity is sitting and crying with someone, feeling sorry for the person and the situation causing the pain. Compassion is empathetic, tries to understand, and points to answer.
When the rich young ruler got his answer, Jesus told him what he needed to do — the young man was the one who walked off. Jesus is the most loving and compassionate person there’s ever been, and He just gives the young man the message. Jesus doesn’t change His message for anyone.
As a leader, it’s important that you are consistent in what you’re saying, but it’s also important that you spend your energy correctly. Help those who truly want help, teach those who truly want to learn, and feed those who are sitting down. That’s when you’ll see the mighty works and miracles of the Kingdom.
Watch below to learn even more!