"I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than the ninety-nine who do not repent." – Luke 15:7; Luke 15:10
Not sure if you are like me or not, but I constantly have to challenge my thinking. I sometimes get stuck in a certain way of thinking about something and have a hard time changing my mindset. I'm sure there are many reasons for this to happen, but what I really want to focus on is how my mind was recently changed. It's a recent shift (as recent as this past Sunday); and while it might take some time to really understand what God is revealing to me, it was eye opening and helpful. So, I’d like to share it.
FOCUSING ON THE MASSES
I have the opportunity to lead many different things in my life, ranging from worship on Sunday mornings, my life group on Friday evenings, and my classroom every day of the week. As a leader, I want people to grow, change and move closer to God. It can become very frustrating, albeit downright defeating, when I look at a group of people I am leading and sense little growth or no change. When I lead worship and pour out my heart and soul and people just stand staring at me as if they can't wait for you to be done; it's defeating. Or when my life group seems to stall and there is little forward momentum; defeating. Or when I’m leading a group of students and it seems they could care less about anything I have to say; it's defeating. Those moments are defeating because I deeply desire the group of people to move and grow.
FOCUSING ON ONE
By focusing on the masses and leading the group as a whole, perhaps I’ve neglected the individual and focused solely on the group, thereby minimizing the importance of the people who make up the group. God has recently said something to me that has caused me to move from focusing on the masses to focusing on individuals.
This past Sunday, Bryan Hay was preaching and used a passage out of Luke to illustrate a point he was trying to make, and the passage really resonated with me. In Luke 15 Jesus tells two different stories, one about a lost sheep and one about a lost coin, but He ultimately draws the same conclusion: There is rejoicing in heaven when ONE, just ONE, person is saved. Jesus is implying that in heaven the angels rejoice when just one person is saved, and they don't become defeated by the others who refuse to accept. At first, that seems callous. What about the other people? Doesn't Jesus have compassion for all lost people? Of course He does and He isn't being callous so much as He is stating the importance of every person. Anytime a person is saved all of heaven will rejoice. He doesn't allow His frustration with the other people to hinder His celebration of the one.
IF IT'S GOOD ENOUGH FOR JESUS, IT'S GOOD ENOUGH FOR ME.
So in my leadership areas, I'm going to start celebrating the individuals. Rather than become frustrated by the hundreds of people who seem bored during worship, I'm going to rejoice and celebrate the people who are outwardly worshipping the King! Rather than see my life group as a static, I'm going to look at each individual and celebrate the successes. In my classroom, rather than worry or stress about the 10 kids who won't do their work, I'm going to celebrate the 20 who are engaged and are learning. If heaven can celebrate over one lost sinner, then I should celebrate individual successes as well. I wonder if by focusing on each individual and rejoicing in every victory, if the whole group will move farther than if I had allowed my frustration to dictate my emotions?
WHAT DOES THIS LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?
So if you happen to lead, I challenge you to try this way of thinking. But in general, it may benefit us all to rejoice the way heaven rejoices. Rather than worry about the people who won't stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, celebrate the others who do. Rather than worry about the things our kids do wrong, focus on what they do right and rejoice. Rather than focus on the negativity in the world, rejoice in the good that happens in a day. Perhaps a little bit of the joy of heaven will fill our hearts as we strive to be like Jesus and rejoice as He did over one lost sinner who is saved.