Ripe fruit

Ripe fruit

I remember the struggle for the largest oranges in my childhood years. We kids always tried to get the largest ones for ourselves. The bigger oranges, with the strongest colors, the better it was. Or so we thought. Untill we discovered that those who chose the smaller fruit often got a better fruit. It was sweeter, firmer and less filled with water and air. Appearances can be deceptive!

Ripe fruit is highly valued. The fruit is at its most tasty, and it is packed with nutrients; ready to serve as an energy reserve for sowing for the next generation of fruit trees generating new fruit one hundred fold.

In our kids ministry we want to see young leaders evolve - eg through the young leader training courses (Slush) provided by the Norwegian Sunday School association. As mature leaders we try to spot which young ones have gifts and abilities that can be used for relevant tasks. God has equipped us all, so it´s only right to se how people are put together for handling assignments. At the same time - the more skilled we are, the more self reliant we become. And the path from being self reliant to becoming self serving can sometimes be a short one.

Jesus was faced with the task of selecting 12 men that were literally set out to save the world. Yes, that´s actually what the great comission is all about. If I were to perform such a selection, I would probably have chosen some CEOs, professors, generals, Church leaders, famous politicians and maybe even some royalty. The best that I could find. And with significant experience and prior results to show for.

Jesus chose differently. He chose 12 very young men from the countryside, and they came from professions with no prestige and from layers of the society with little acceptance. None of them were scholars and none of them had any credentials.

Did you know that when the gardner sells his very best fruit trees, he has grafted the tree top on to a stem and root that is a few years older? So, nature teaches us that the combination of rootedness and youthfulness gives the best results.

That´s why Jesus spent three years fostering and training the character of these 12 men. They lived together and talked to God all day, every day, for three full years. And this shaped them and prepared them for the task of saving the world.

I think God values people using their talents in His service. But the Bible tells us that God is even more concerned with your heart and your character. He is more concerned with the why than the how. We have to face the painful, but yet liberating fact, that God do not need us, but he wants us.

When you put young people to use in ministry, I would encourage you to put a stronger emphasis on character and matters of the heart both in recruitment and in training. If you have a Bible nearby, I would encourage you to read 1. Corinthians 1, 26-31.

This article was first published in the Norwegian Sunday School magazine in 2008

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