Quantity vs Quality

Today’s guest post comes from Jim Wolaver, one of an excellent class of students from Bethel Seminary who recently studied the intersection between faith, vocation and work.

Christians affect those around them the same as anyone else. One aspect of my personal ministry that concerned me until recently was the number of people I ministered to. I am not a member of any organized Christian outreach, I am not a Pastor addressing a congregation on a regular basis, and I am not a blogger or media personality. I reach only one or two people at a time in anything resembling a ministry capacity.

One of the things any passionate Christian wants is to lead others to a passionate, positive relationship with Jesus Christ. According to Dr. John C. Maxwell, world-renown Christian-principle based leadership teacher, “leadership is influence – or if you can’t influence people, you can’t lead them.”  Given the ability to influence others, the next most attractive asset a passionate Christian might seek is the opportunity to influence larger numbers of people. This certainly explains the appeal of mega-churches from the Pastor’s perspective. I attended a church in Santee, CA that regularly baptized hundreds of new believers each year and this was primarily possible because it hosted 3 services a week with over 500 people a per service.

I happened upon a very appealing opportunity recently; professional acting and modeling. I am a power personality, motivated to lead others toward worthwhile goals. The most influential professional sector today is entertainment, more-so than even politics. Professional coaching and mentorship from an established organization with a proven high-percentage entertainment track record offers a powerful opportunity. Every entertainer, Christian or otherwise, influences far more people than they will ever meet in person; their power is magnified by their media.

There are several ways to say it, but the next necessary consideration must be the use of that power. “With great power comes great responsibility,” – Voltaire, 1832. “Of those to whom much is given, much is required,” – Jesus of Nazareth, circa 0 AD. My bretheren, be not many (of you) masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation (for wrongs) – John 3:1 (KJV). Simply put, to seek greater influence is to accept a higher standard of judgment from God.

I don’t mean to argue against influence or quantity. What I do is to caution in favor of quality. Instead of striving for greater influence, I argue that we should seek to steward the influence we have carefully, to ensure that we scrupulously use it with fear and trembling, careful to strive for the greatest possible benefit for the Kingdom.

A recent even brought this all home to me. One of my step-sons died yesterday. For the first time in my life, I was moved to do something I previously felt was trite; I deliberately committed an expressed act of Pastoral-care ministry. In all my previous experience, such efforts have appeared contrived, plastic, as a façade. I texted the following to my wife who was at his bedside, hours before he died because I could not be there.

Good morning, Darling.

It is snowing steadily – there is good cover now. It is smooth and white and beautiful. It is as if God is comforting him, putting clean, new covers on him, being with him personally. Whether he goes today or not, it’s like God is tucking him in.

I love you.

This simple message turned out to be a great source of comfort to her. I almost didn’t send it because of my previous thoughts about such messages. I now understand their value.

Be sincere and passionate in your ministry. It matters much less how many you reach than how well you serve them.

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