I know this may be hard to fathom. It may even be hard to contemplate, but Jesus’ disciples did not always address the issue of money properly. Somehow just typing this makes me feel uncomfortable. Surely the people Jesus led the strongest certainly could not have been found to have failed with money that was for the mission… Right? The truth of the matter is that the disciples had all kinds of failings, and, unfortunately, money is on the list.
Here are a few times the disciples could have led stronger. Let’s use this as an opportunity to raise our own leadership bar.
1. The disciples were unprepared for an opportunity (John 6). This comes from the story of the boy with the fishes and loaves. God was at work and there was an opportunity for the ministry to continue, but it required feeding thousands of people. The Bible says Jesus asked them as a test, how would this event be resourced? Of course, they had no clue. Jesus knew in advance how the challenge would be solved. He performed a miracle, then provided extra. Jesus then instructed the disciples to gather the extra resources all together and make sure none was wasted. Jesus was helping them get ready for the next mission.
Jesus is always up to something that needs to be resourced. This takes both faith and discipline. Are you both believing and planning for God to do something great? Your future potential is dependent upon your preparedness today.
2. The disciples misunderstood an expense versus an investment (Matthew 26). A lady approached Jesus with a very expensive jar of perfume and anointed Jesus’ head with it. She didn’t just put a dot of perfume on Jesus, rather, she emptied the entire bottle! The disciples saw the value of the perfume and thought they knew of a better use — giving to the poor. Now Jesus was definitely for serving the poor and helpless. He did this often. However, He needed a great resource to be invested in the mission of the gospel. This gift of anointing Jesus head would be remembered for decades every time the gospel was shared.
Church budgets contain both expenses and investments. Sometimes it can be really hard to invest a large amount of money in a forward thinking way. It can feel better to spend the money in many different smaller ways. Either way the same amount has been used. We can piddle away the resources and feel safe, or we can invest in big future ventures. Know the difference between an expense and an investment. Be courageous and invest often in the mission.
3. The disciples mishandled the money. (John 12) Judas, the treasurer, actually stole money from the disciples treasury for his own personal use. This is a weighty thought. Money given by trusting people to be used for the cause was being stolen by a leader. The team Jesus led committed the biggest money failure of all. One was a criminal, and the others did not provide the necessary accountability. It is truly shocking, but it shouldn’t be.
Humans do things we all regret. We must not be too trusting or complacent on this issue. Long before a crime occurs, put a system of protection and accountability in place. It protects everyone, the giver, the church, and the leadership who are handling the money.
If Jesus’ leadership team experienced repeated failures related to resources, what are the odds that your leadership team may have some critical items to discuss? It would be easy to run straight to the issue of criminal activity and check the box of innocent or guilty. However, if all sins are equal, the lack of preparedness or willingness to invest is just as dark. God gives us resources for one reason only, and that is to leave our hands reaching toward the highest good. Sometimes this is meeting a physical need today, other times it is in a future mission yet to be realized.
Share this blog with your team and create the opportunity for a collaborative discussion. How would your team grade out in comparison to these three money sins of the disciples?