by Amber Mann Riggs
Dry Rot was a destitute place. The people there were hungry. All that hunger led to stealing. And stealing led to suspicion, and suspicion led to…well, you get the picture.
But outside of Dry Rot, there were hundreds of acres of farmland. One day, the man who had inherited the land passed through the town and realized he had enough farmland to get rid of Dry Rot’s hunger problem for good. He only had a few hours to spend there, for he was on a very long journey, but he quickly purchased a book on farming, set up a bank account, and held interviews.
Together, the five of you have what it takes to get the farm running and feed the whole town.
Finally, he gathered five townsfolk together and told them, “Together, the five of you have what it takes to get the farm running and feed the whole town. Here’s a book and my bank account. I’ll be back in five years to see how you’ve done.”
As soon as the man left, the four other townsfolk looked straight at Thomas and nominated him to be their leader. After all, he was already thumbing through the book and making notes on what they needed to do to get started.
So that year, Thomas taught them all how to farm. They were obsessive about following the rules of farming perfectly that year. However, the five of them couldn’t cover much land, and at the end of the first year, the farmers were exhausted, and the people of Dry Rot were still hungry.
We have to plant more seeds!
“We have to plant more seeds! Expand! Cover as much land as possible!” Alex urged them. They knew he was right. So the next year, they nominated Alex to be their leader. But at the end of the second year, the farmers were completely exhausted, weeds choked out most of the harvest, and the people of Dry Rot were still hungry.
“Do you know what we need?” Eva asked them. “More workers!” That year, they nominated Eva to be their leader. After all, if anyone could enthusiastically recruit more workers, Eva could. They followed along after her. In came a bunch of extra hands, most of whom never had a clue as to what they were doing or why they were doing it. At the end of the third year, the farmers were exhausted, weeds choked out most of the harvest, the workers were all fighting with one another, and the people of Dry Rot were still hungry.
We’ve got to build community.
“We’ve got to build community,” Susan insisted. That year, they nominated Susan to be the leader. She had them spend all their time mediating disputes. They did not like mediating disputes, and it left them no time for anything else. Therefore, at the end of the fourth year, the farmers were exhausted, weeds choked out most of the harvest, many of the workers were still fighting (though not as much), the farmers were becoming increasingly disgruntled, and the people of Dry Rot were still hungry.
Meanwhile, they discovered that all of their harvest was going to the workers – who had far more than what they needed and quite frankly, were becoming rather stout. “This is an outrage!” Pete roared. “We need to make sure our food gets to the people who need it most”.
There wasn’t time for them to use their skills to the farm’s advantage.
The rest of the farmers agreed. That year, they nominated Pete to be their leader. He set up a food distribution system. But the other farmers were so busy working in food distribution that, once again, there wasn’t time for them to use their skills to the farm’s advantage. So by the end of the fifth year, the farmers were exhausted, weeds choked out most of the harvest, the workers were fighting more than ever, the farmers became even more disgruntled, and they were so mad at one another that they were ready to split the farm into 5 pieces.
And the people of Dry Rot were still hungry.
Fortunately, the landowner was true to his word, and at the end of the 5 years, he indeed came back. When he saw that the people of Dry Rot were still hungry, he said,
“Between the 5 of you, you have everything you need to feed this town. But the workers need all 5 of you to lead them, not just one of you at a time. If it were not so, I would have only chosen one of you.”
“I chose Eva to find and train more townsfolk who could recruit and orient new workers to the mission
…and I chose Thomas to teach everyone how to farm and to find and train more teachers to make sure everyone knew what they were supposed to do
…and I chose Alex to expand the farm and team up with others who would help him think strategically about expansion
…and I chose Susan to build a team of community builders who could help settle disputes and make sure the workers are all taken care of
…and I chose Pete to gather a group of people who are passionate about making sure the harvest is distributed in a way that everyone is fed.
Be on the same team.
“You weren’t all supposed to be on each other’s teams, following one person’s directions based on what they care the most about. You are supposed to be on the same team, working and planning together as you each lead teams to fulfill your specific purposes.”
Five years later, when the landowner came back to Dry Rot, the people weren’t hungry anymore. In fact, they had made their tiny plots of land parts of the farm. And because the entire town was now farm workers, they all knew how to farm and get along with their neighbors. Now they all worked together to help the hungry towns nearby. Dry Rot became known as Farmington.
Which one of these leaders are you?
Which one of these leaders are you? The teacher? The apostle, moving the church into new ground? The evangelist? The shepherd? The prophet who is calling attention to who and what is being overlooked?
Jesus was all of these things: teacher, apostle, evangelist, shepherd, prophet. As the Body of Christ, the Church is called to each of these functions, as well. In fact, Paul asserted that all of them are needed “to equip [Christ’s] people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up” (Eph. 4:12).
But none of us are Jesus. We can and should grow in each of these areas, but in order to build up the Church, she needs teams of leaders who work together to make sure all of these functions are being covered and that one of them isn’t taking resources away from the others or calling all of the shots.
Artios Christian College is here to help you build your team. Did you know we even have a sponsorship program that makes it easy for congregations to sponsor its members to take classes? Whole boards are making plans to take LEA 111 Essentials of Vibrant Leadership together.