Sometimes every leader needs a moment of assessment in his disciple making. After a long day of ministry Jesus is exhausted. He desperately needs to get away from the crowds and rest, so he gets into a boat and tells his disciples to head to the other side of the lake. After a few minutes, the boat gently rocking as they cross the sea at sunset, Jesus lays down on a cushion in the back and falls sound asleep. While he’s sleeping a violent storm builds over the eastern mountains and suddenly drops onto the sea. Soon the boat is rocking violently, the sail is snapping in the wind threatening to tear in two, and the mast is bending to the point of breaking. Even the experienced fishermen begin to panic. They wake Jesus up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we are going to drown!” We’ll let someone who was in the boat finish the story;
‘Jesus responded, “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” Then he got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm. The disciples were amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked. “Even the winds and waves obey him!”’
Matthew 8:26-27 (NLT)
I love the irony. The men who’ve been with Jesus the longest, they’ve seen him heal disease, cast out demons, even turn water into wine, they are afraid that this whole thing might end with the Son of God drowning in the middle of the Sea of Galilee. The creator of the universe’s grand story of salvation will end because of a thunderstorm he didn’t see coming. This is a very revealing moment in Jesus’s disciple making; months into being with Jesus 24/7 his followers have no understanding of who Jesus is nor his bigger mission on earth. It is now clear they are not maturing as disciples.
We are in one of those Sea of Galilee moments right now. A storm unlike any we’ve seen before is rocking our world. In the middle of this storm the maturity level of the disciples we lead is being revealed, and its pretty discouraging. Attendance at online services is declining, fewer people are engaging in small groups, and the initial surge of volunteerism has all but disappeared. The one place we see many in our congregations actively engaged is arguments on social media over Covid conspiracies. Some days it feels like our boat may indeed sink before this pandemic is over.