cream, rising, and a common assumption

Last week, I finished up my stint teaching four lectures on Collegiate and Young Adult Ministry at Dallas Theological Seminary. It was a fantastic experience – not just getting to share about our glorious field, but getting to connect with some very cool men and women who are interested in (or presently engaged in) the work!

Today’s topic came up through Q&A (I think), but it’s a common notion I try to challenge as I have opportunity – especially because (I believe) it’s a misunderstanding that  hurts students… and it’s impacted me negatively in the past, too.

That mistaken notion? We can assume that “cream always rises to the top” in our ministries, that potential leaders will always appear rather automatically.

I’ve talked to plenty of ministers (collegiate and otherwise) who profess this view. Even though their ministry is quite large (large enough not to know students individually), they express faith that, as attendees are faithful in serving and connecting with others, that leaders will be revealed quite organically.

And I just don’t see it. Not as an assumption, I mean.

Of course, leaders do appear this way often. Their works and wisdom get noticed by present leaders, and the “one skilled in his work,” sure enough, often gets to “serve before kings.”

Another point in its favor: This notion is itself a reaction (to the also-mistaken approach) of letting anybody try leading, of “laying hands too quickly.” I’m completely on-board with a wait-and-see approach to recognizing leaders.

So what’s my beef? WAITING doesn’t automatically lead to SEEING. There may be certain people – even certain types of people – who won’t be noticed organically. No matter how faithful… or potentially awesome… they are.

More on this tomorrow. (Click here for that.) But there’s something to chew on for a Monday!


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