In my general blog for church life, I am currently doing a series on Samson, a man who is strong and weak. As I was flicking through the Old Testament looking at his life, I flicked to a passage on David which says “And he died in a good old age, full of days, riches and honour, and Solomon ruled in his place” (1 Chr. 29.28), and I thought – that’s how I want to go – full of days, riches and honour. In fact, the most powerful part of the legacy of David in this verse is Solomon. It’s amazing how many successes are not real success because they have never raised up a successor.
I don’t want to be one of those pastors who when you hear his name you think of the scandal. I want to be someone who has much fruit and finishes my course!
And David wasn’t perfect, in many ways he messed up as bad as Samson, but he got through it because he had learned some things Samson never did. So for all you pastors and leaders out there, I want to do a series on some of the things David learned.
And let’s start at the beginning, David was the youngest of seven brothers, and he was the shepherd of the family. He began by looking after the family sheep – a lowly and small job, but David started there and was faithful there.
It is my experience that fewer and fewer people want to start a ministry in a small way. People don’t even know how to start small. They want to rip another church apart to get people into their church. They find a pastor who is building, and break his legs to steal some of his church, because they hate the days of small beginnings.
Through deceit and dishonour, they rip a church in two to gather a following for themselves and use those people to start their own ministry.
Sometimes people have been disparaging of Tree of Life Church because some of our satellite churches are very small indeed. I realize that these people do not know how to start something out of nothing. They don’t know how to begin a church. They don’t know that the entire network for 6 months was a church of 3-5 people!
Do not be afraid of small beginnings, rather trust God to promote you!
While looking after the sheep, David had two encounters – one with a bear and one with a lion. Learning to fight tough battles in the small, seemingly insignificant church of his father’s sheep, taught David how to fight for the nation! When you have preached several hundred times to 12 people, you will be fine preaching to 100 or 1000 or 10000. You have learned!
I have preached all over the world, to small groups and large groups, to hostile groups and to friendly groups, to places I have been cheers and places I have been jeered. Learning this in small settings has been invaluable. Now I am on one of the largest Christian TV stations in my nation, speaking to possibly hundreds of thousands of people weekly. That’s ok with me – I have spoke to 3 over and over and over until I know how to speak.
But people today all want to be in a rush to succeed. Whether it is the assistant pastor who rips a church in two to get his crowd, or the Bible College student who hangs around the Bible College hoping to be offered to share to the class or teach a class rather than go into all the world and make a disciple or two, or the people who email me every single week asking to preach in our church – they want to get there quickly, and haven’t learned this foundational lesson from David. Serve where you are, minister where you are, never be afraid to start small.
Don’t be in a rush to get there. Better to make a mistake in a small group than a huge group. Better to misspend a thousand pounds than a hundred thousand. Small is a necessary stage in the kingdom (and in business too). Jesus said you have to be faithful in small things to get big things, and you have to be faithful in another man’s stuff to get your own stuff (Luke 16.10-12). Most people don’t seem to believe that any more – but David did. He looked after those sheep like they were millions and like they were all his. And that was the key to his promotion.
You might be in the school of Small Starts today. Your class today might be “Treating Other People’s Ministry as Well As You Want Your Ministry to Be Treated”, your class might be “Turning up on time and preparing a great Bible study for 10 people, while you really want to preach to a thousand, but still preparing it just as well for the ten”. Well, go to school then! Take the class. You won’t be at school forever, your graduation will come, your kingship will manifest one day. I believe in you! Enjoy the training, as one day it will end.