Five…four…Ferguson picks up his dribble…three . . . two . . . one . . . Ferguson shoots and scores! They win! They did it! Ferguson’s last-second shot has won the championship!
With my hands raised in victory, I shouted those words in the driveway of my house as a kid. In fact, I created a heroic drama like this hundreds of times every summer.
I bet you did too.
If it wasn’t a game-winning last-second shot, how did you imagine yourself as the hero somewhere?
My wife, Sue, who became a teacher, saw herself being like Anne Sullivan: teaching the next Helen Keller and helping her students discover how to learn.
Maybe you dreamed of taking a spaceship into outer space as the whole world watched to see whether you would land safely.
Perhaps you envisioned yourself in front of ten thousand screaming fans, nailing a face-melting solo on your electric guitar.
Maybe you imagined dancing so beautifully that when the music stopped, the crowd erupted with a standing ovation.
I believe God put that dream to be a hero within each of us as our way to make a difference and to leave our mark on planet Earth.
Jesus as a Hero Maker
Jesus’ death on the cross was heroic. Jesus told his Father, “Not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42), and then he stretched out his arms and gave his life for us.
But Jesus didn’t stop with being a hero. He made heroes out of his closest followers. We know that Jesus was a hero maker by how he allocated his time and energy as a leader.
When you think of Jesus’ ministry, do you picture him speaking to the crowds—Sermon on the Mount, feeding of the five thousand—or spending time to train the Twelve? One researcher says the Gospels put 3/4’s of their emphasis on the training of the Twelve. He calculates that from the time Jesus told the Twelve that he’d teach them to multiply (“I will send you out to fish for people” [Matt. 4:19]) until his death, Jesus spent 73 percent of his time with the Twelve. That’s 46 events with the few, compared with 17 events with the masses. The ratio of time Jesus spent with the few versus time he spent with the many was almost three to one.
The point: Jesus’ ministry emphasis, in terms of where he put the biggest amount of time, was with his 12 apprentices! He was mentoring them so they would do “greater things” (John 14:12). This included multiplying themselves through others.
In the years that followed, not only do we see the amazing works of the Holy Spirit through these 12 in and after the book of Acts, but according to history Jesus’ earliest followers fulfilled his prophecy that they would do greater things by making other disciple makers around the world
21st-Century Hero Maker
I vividly remember the day I looked at my schedule and saw an appointment with a guy named Sam Stephens. I asked my assistant, Pat, why I had this meeting and who this guy was.
“I thought you knew him,” she said. “All I know is that he is from India.”
I went into the meeting wondering if this would be a waste of my time. I greeted the man, extended my hand and asked him to tell me his story. Sam started back in the 1950s, with a story about his father. Sam’s father had started a mission to plant churches in India, and by 1992 they had experienced some growth. They now had 200 churches, and all could be traced to that first church started by Sam’s dad in the ’50s.
Wow, I thought. Two hundred churches! Sam had my attention now.
Sam wasn’t comfortable talking about his own work; he’s very humble. So I had to drag the details out of him. He told me that in 1992, he had taken over the mission, and he made a simple but strategic shift in the way they did things. He began to insist that every church planter not only plant a church but also have an apprentice church planter. This was someone who would come alongside the planter and learn firsthand how to plant a church, so the reproduction would continue year after year.