We have already considered four administrative skills which Jesus demonstrated when he fed the 5000. We shall now look at two more.
Mk 6:40 So they sat down in groups, by hundreds and by fifties.
A plan had clearly formed in Jesus’ mind and in order to fulfil it he needed not only to reassert his authority but also to bring order back to the crowd. Feeding 5000 men plus women and children was certainly no picnic!
Order brings security to those involved, whether it is order of the crowd, of the recording of finances, or of the allocation and recording of materials and other resources. Having been involved in organising many substantial conferences over nearly 3 decades (e.g. Downs Bible Week, Stoneleigh Bible Week, Newfrontiers Together on a Mission Leaders Conference at the Brighton Conference Centre, UK – see posting of July 8th), some being measured in tens of thousands of delegates, I have learned to appreciate the importance of order and clear organisation. Although I am not inherently a very orderly person (you should see my desk!) I have had the joy of working with people who, as a team, have been exemplary in working together and ensuring an overall ‘tight’ structure with willing accountability.
No doubt he already had in mind how he would distribute the food – through the disciples. In making the people sit down in orderly groups he is creating a context for easy distribution, not just re-introducing peace and quiet to the crowd. To be able to direct each disciple in turn to the group they were to serve there could be little room for confusion and it would be easy to ensure that all would receive what they needed.
Mk 6:41 And taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven and said a blessing and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the people. And he divided the two fish among them all.
It can be tempting, as an administrator, to let the leaders do the spiritual bit! No, no, no! In Acts 6, as we shall see in a later posting, those who were identified to carry out an apparently mundane task of solving a dispute among the widows of the early church were recorded as being ‘full of the Spirit and of wisdom’ (Acts 6:3). As administrators we need to have our own walk of faith. Often we are needing to call on God for solutions to problems, for provision of resources and so on. We are not just ‘do it’ people.
On several occasions I have had the privilege of presenting the purpose of an offering in some of the above conferences. This is a task I have taken seriously and have frequently had the joyful experience of God revealing to me, sometimes months in advance, the amount that will be collected. I have thus felt ‘graced’ to present the offering without putting any pressure on people but have been able to tell them how I have felt God has led. What rejoicing there has been when the amounts have been announced – on one occasion exactly to the pound (and it was £750,000!)! In this way it is possible to build up the faith of others, as I am sure must have been the case with the disciples as they watched the food being multiplied. We shall look at some aspects of this in the next posting.
5. Successful implementation requires order
6. Works without faith are dead