Recently I was talking with an experienced and wise friend. We were sharing about our struggles and successes in sports ministry in Asia. At one point, I regressed into complaining about my current employee who came back to the Lord after working with me for two years. He does well most of the time, but returns to the bottle every now and then. I have poured into him, given him the benefit of the doubt, treated him with grace, rebuked him for sin, prayed with him, cried for him, and the list goes on.
He is exactly the same person he was five years ago. He has not grown in his faith and has not gotten past his own hang ups. Every time he falls I feel bad for him and want so badly to help him, maybe more than he wants to help himself. I sometimes feel like it was my fault that he fell, because I did not encourage him enough or I did not keep him busy enough. I am now realizing I have somewhat become the victim of an alcoholic.
My friend’s response went something like this:
I too once had an assistant that I poured into and poured into, wanting to help him mature into a Christian leader, but he was like a bucket with holes in the bottom. The bucket never filled up. He only had in him what I had poured into him at that moment. I now have a different assistant and when I pour into him he runs over and spills all over those around him.
I have been teaching through the book of I Timothy. We see Paul pouring into Timothy, teaching him, and encouraging him to serve Christ without hesitation. He calls Timothy to teach and impact other people around him and to spill over onto his community.
Paul says in I Timothy 4:15 & 16, “Be diligent . . . so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do so you will save both yourself and your hearers.” Paul was not investing in Timothy only to save one young man, but to prepare a leader to impact many and to save his hearers.
So as church planters or mentors how do we find these young lives who are buckets without holes? The Lord brought my employee to me and he served me well as an employee. However, he never became the man of God who would impact the people around him; he has more leaks than I have spiritual energy. At times I have not shared enough in the community because I was busy trying to fill a leaky bucket.
Today, I am trying to process cutting myself loose from this man, giving up on him, giving him over to Satan (I Timothy 1:20), turning the responsibility of healing this broken man over to God.
Today, I am also trying to process a phone call I got last week. Over the last year I have been wishing for a national man to work beside me, not an employee working for a salary. I can find an employee easily by putting out a job description and processing the applications.
However, I am looking for someone to work beside me as we both serve the Lord. This is not someone you can find with an ad. It is someone I need to wait for with patience.
Last week I received a call. A young man quit a very good job in international relations at a big electronics company in the city and is feeling led to serve the Lord. He wanted to know if we need someone. Yes, we need a water-tight bucket that will spill over with the love of Christ onto our community. So we seek and pray. Is this young man a Timothy sent to us?
--Written by L.E.