Recently, I got myself an NLT Bible to refresh myself from ESV. I’ve been loving it as I feel like I’m in the midst of the story that’s being read.
With this new translation in my hand, I decided to go through the book of Mark. I always loved reading Luke and John, but for some reason I always had a hard time with Matthew and Mark. Remarkably, I’ve discovered some new insights of Jesus that I hadn’t noticed before.
In Mark 6, when the disciples returned from their ministry trip that Jesus had sent them on, He said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile” (v. 31), wanting to give rest to His disciples since “there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat” (v. 31). But then the crowd recognized Him and ran after Him, and so He was moved by compassion and He began ministering to them.
After that, He fed 5,000 men, as well as women and children, with just five loaves of bread and two fish.
Then… “Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and head across the lake to Bethsaida, while he sent people home. After telling everyone goodbye, he went up into the hills by himself to pray” (v. 45-46).
Two things that freshly got my attention:
First, Jesus was never motivated by obligation for ministry, but rather, He was moved by the love for HIs people. When He saw the crowd coming, He didn’t say, “Oh great… Well… I gotta do what I gotta do…” But instead, He was moved by compassion and welcomed them. Probably because He only did what the Father was doing, and the Father is filled with love for His children.
Second, Jesus fought for “rest” for His disciples. When the disciples came back from a ministry trip, He tried to take them to a quiet place to give them rest. But when the crowd came, He was totally open to the interruption in order to meet the needs of the people. This showed His disciples’ flexibility and non-entitlement. However, when that ministry was over, Jesus “insisted” for His disciples to go away while He stayed behind to finish things up. It’s rare to see ministry leaders fight for the people in their team and then stay behind to give them more rest.
If I honestly check my motivation for ministry, am I moved by the love for His people, or am I moved by obligation and fear of what God and other people will think of me if I don’t do this or that? Perhaps half and half. But I would love to be 100% motivated by love. Also, one of the greatest regrets that I have for the past two DTS’ that I’ve led, is not fighting enough for rest and pouring into my staff teams. It’s easy to sacrifice our own ministry team’s health (and families) for the demands of ministry, but Jesus seemed to always find a way to invest HIs time into His disciples and fight for their rest.
Hence, being motivated by the LOVE of the Father and NOT obligation to fear of losing control or reputation, enables us to have a greater capacity to do more for God, while not sacrificing our co-laborers and families into burning out.