If you’ve ever struggled with doubt, insecurity or the feeling of inadequacy as a leader, this one is for you.
If you’ve ever wondered why the disciples of Jesus seemed like such a hot mess sometimes, this one is for you.
If you’ve lost sight of who you are and what you’re capable of as a person and leader, then this one is for you.
I’ve been reading this book bit by bit at night (as I’m sitting in the hall keeping a straying eye on my toddlers infinitely trying to finagle their way out of bedtime) on the topic of Discipleship.
First 5 chapters in and it’s not what I expected at all.
For starters, the author Robby Gallaty doesn’t go into the 5 or 7 step plan or program for discipleship. Instead he spends the first several chapters laying the ground work through topics like 1st century Judaism, church history/church fathers and this idea of Keshers-which are New Testament allusions to Old Testament references.
All of it very fascinating-making for a much more general educational experience too, by the way, which is a win for me (a pastor who is not “Seminary trained” whatever that means!)
But none so fascinating as this one chapter titled “Disciples are Made, Not Born” where Gallaty is having the broader discussion around just how normal these 12 men really were.
He lays out a profile of the disciples concerning 3 main categories: how they were blue-collar workers, how they possessed no formal religious training and how they were young men.
It’s this last profile item that has made an absolute proselyte out of me for this book.
Gallaty goes on to lay out a highly convincing 7-fold argument for why the disciples may have very well been… TEENAGERS.
Consider the following few as a sample:
When you look at the title Jesus often used for them; the original greek words Mikronos and Teknion they mean “little ones” or “little children”…
You think about their formal Jewish training which would have ended at 15 (these 12, Jesus’ 12 were not selected to progress onto the next elite stage)…
You take this reality and combine it with the normative age for getting married at the time-18 (it was frowned upon in this time and place to be a bachelor after 18; none but Peter was thought to be married), and you begin to see the power of the argument.
These facts along with 2 other major defenses: their tenure of ministry long after Jesus’ death along with their seemingly constant and petty quibbling-ridden immaturity… this really starts to make sense.
So my first thing is this…
Why have I never heard this before?!
I’ve been a Christian for over 30 years, I’ve gone to Christian College, I’ve worked in vocational ministry for over half a decade, read several books, listened to hundreds of sermons and not once did I hear someone allude to the disciples being teenagers.
I can only surmise that this is because the same scorn for youth and young people that exists today was alive and well in the time and place of Jesus.
You see I think we, in the marketplace as well as church organizations, need to strongly reconsider the worth, value and investment ascribed to young volunteers and young staff.
And the key word is investment… worthy investment. We need to trade our scorn for open-minded and intentional investment.
Here’s a good question to consider in giving young people more opportunities:
Why are you still recruiting and hiring to skills and competencies?
The chapter title reminds me of something Craig Groeschel says in his leadership podcast:
Leaders are not found, they’re developed.
The point is this: we need to start looking for the intangibles when it comes to our team members… character, attitude, heart, mindset and emotional intelligence.
With these as the baseline all else can be trained and equipped.
After all, if you’re a boss, hiring manager, CEO or lead pastor and you’ve ever been frustrated with the expense (material and immaterial) of letting someone go after they failed to meet the needs of the organization then you understand that 9/10 of those departures were based off of organizational culture and DNA fit.
In other words they were based off of the above baselines. Which, without these, excellence and proficiency in skills, tasks and competencies don’t matter because there’s never enough chemistry and unity to forge through to that level of productivity anyway!
Look back and consider Jesus’ selection of these young men; he believed they had the right stuff, the stuff that could be built on.
One final question when considering the 12 disciples as teenagers:
Who do you think it is that is charged with changing the world?
There was 1 and then there was 12 and then there was 70 (Luke 10) and then there was 120 (Acts 1) and then there was 3000 (Acts 2-Pentecost) and then there was 6 million (end of 3rd Century) and then there was nearly a billion (today).
A movement that began with 12 young men… quite possibly teenagers.
Was Jesus, in fact, trying to tell us something… was he trying to send us a message by selecting these ordinary, common-even juvenile-mere teenagers?
These boys were just on their official summer job. School was out, except school was out for good and they did not get the acceptance letter for higher learning.
They’re taking back up that trade that paid their way last summer and except this time it’s for life.
Who would even have the gall to imagine something greater, something bigger, something more profound?
We know now looking back at history that it was not “if” it was “when” for this group of leaders.
And so if a rag-tag bunch of teenagers could be grown up and trained in the way that they ought to walk in order that they might partner with the actual author of history to affect the trajectory of the human story… maybe, just maybe it’s possible that we could play a hand too…
Men, women, boys and girls, mom’s, dad’s, students, workers, blue-collar, white-collar, black, white, brown and yellow… all have a name and a place… all have a call that’s grander than the task at hand… all have the ability to multiply the way like those who went before them.