“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery
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The Bible is very clear that we ought to be training others to do the work of the ministry. The Church has become excellent at training people to do the technical details of the Christian life. When teaching prayer, we have acrostics like ACTS (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication). When teaching Evangelism, we have methods like “The Way of the Master” and “The Three Circles.
” When teaching people how to study the Bible, we introduce them to tools like “Blue Letter Bible
” and “E-Sword
.” All of this practical training is vital. We live in an unparalleled time where the resources to practically study the Bible and live the Christian life are literally at our fingertips, even in our pockets! Yet, something is still missing; something is not working!
A large part of that “missing” element is longing. People do not long to see friends and family turn to the Christ as their Savior. They do not hunger for intimacy and fellowship with the Most High God in prayer. They do not yearn for the riches of the Holy Bible. As I write these words, I have to step back and ask myself, “Did I teach them to?” I have, and do, teach tips and tools to study the Bible and methods for effective prayer. However, did I teach them to long for the “endless immensity” of our God?
Building a ship is one thing, but we have a much higher calling. Teach your people to long for the things of God. Teach them the same passion you have for souls, for the Word, and for the Lord. Teach them the desire of the Psalmist in Psalm 42, “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?” Teach them the words of Jesus, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.”
Teach them to yearn for God, and they will grow. Teach them to desire souls saved, and they will go. However, I fear we miss the ship when we do not teach them to long for it.