Essentials Part 8: A Leadership Parable

Rick Mattson Leadership 4 Comments

For seven weeks now I’ve been talking about Essentials for ministry growth.

In this post I have a radical suggestion to make. It’s taken from a short module on growth that I’ve been doing for campus and church ministries.

Let’s say a cool guy, Joe, approaches me about joining a men’s Bible study. I ask Joe who else is in the group and he tells me that Larry is already signed on.

I like Larry. I’m intrigued.

Joe’s got fire in his eyes. He tells me this group is not for the faint-hearted. If I join, it has to be 100%. I need to show up every week (or close to it). On time.

Joe lays out the plan and promises me a fantastic experience. He looks at me steady and unblinking and declares simply, “Rick, I want you in the group.”

OK, this is different. Whatever happened to “everyone welcome” and “come when you can”?

In these days of half-hearted commitments, I wonder if Joe will ever get this thing off the ground. He’s asking too much.

I come to my senses. Joe doesn’t care if no one else joins. He and Larry will go it alone and pretty soon they’ll be telling me how good it is and how God meets them so powerfully every week . . .

Alright, I’m in.

I regress for a moment and ask Joe if the group is open to the whole wide ministry that we’re in — if other guys can just show up when they want.

Joe looks at me funny like I don’t get it. “Rick, it’s not an open groupOnly guys who can make the same commitment we’re making can join.

Wow. Counter-cultural. I can’t believe he just said that. But somehow it makes me want to join even more.


Six months later, Joe has totally delivered.

The group is excellent, as promised. Four guys had amazing experiences studying God’s word together and bonding deeply. We watched some football, went on a fishing trip, supported Larry through his mom’s death and funeral, and prayed for each other’s families.

Joe announces that he’s got two more guys who want in. They join. Now we’re six.

A year later it’s ten, then fourteen, then twenty.


My belief is that quality and commitment beget quality and commitment.

Ask for a lot and you’ll get it.

Ask for a little and you’ll get it.

By the way, this little parable is based on a real-life ministry. It’s not located in my state of Minnesota, but I don’t care. I’ll commute. I want in (if they’ll take me).

Comments 4

  1. Great post. My guys group is very similar to this. We made a decision early on that nothing would get in the way except being out of town and emergencies. I've never been in a group that goes after the Lord more. Worth the price of commitment!

  2. Ryan, Sandi, Kelli, good thoughts. In my younger days my thought was, “Ask for the lowest commitment that no one can decline.” Now it's, “Ask for the highest commitment that great people could accept.”

    I too am in a discussion group (called TP) that has four people who hardly EVER miss. It's so good that at the end of the evening none of us wants to go home.

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