January 15th, 2021

Merging ideas constructively


By Jacob M. Van Zyl on November 28, 2020.

Last of two parts

Two heads think better than one, but too many cooks spoil the broth. Somewhere between “one” and “too many” is the right balance.
As young pastor, I got the opportunity for further study in psychology. Uncertain what to do, I discussed my options with experienced pastors. They encouraged me to grab the opportunity while I was still young and unmarried. I did, and have never regretted that step I took in faith.
From time to time, I got bright ideas how to improve on the present situation. However, I had to work through councils consisting of people from various walks in life. Metaphorically speaking, I was the engine and they were the brakes, slowing down the engine so it does not crash.
I was often frustrated with the slow process. In the mid-1980s, personal computers just began to spread in South Africa. I suggested to the council of a rehab clinic that they store patient data on disk rather than filling another room with paper files. It took two years of back-and-forth referrals between the council and its committees before the dream was realized.
However, I gradually learned the wisdom of the system. In order to get council approval, I usually suggested the cheapest way to get things done. As subcommittees digested the problem and solutions, they usually ended with better but more expensive solutions than I had proposed. It suited me well.
Shortly after Israel’s liberation from slavery in Egypt, Moses’ father-in-law advised him to delegate some of his responsibilities to others and so prevent burnout. He appointed leaders over tens, fifties, hundreds and thousands to solve small disputes. Moses handled only those cases they could not solve.
Moses appointed Aaron and his sons as priests to run worship in the Tabernacle, and the Levites to assist them with labour.
Later, God told Moses to appoint 70 elders to assist him in his task of spiritual leadership. God placed his Spirit on these elders to fulfill their calling (Num. 11).
Moses sent 12 spies into Canaan to gain intelligence about the country and its defenses. All of them agreed that it was a beautiful country, but 10 said it was too well fortified for Israel to conquer (Num. 14). This committee failed because of its negative thinking, causing 40 years of wandering in the wilderness.
Kings David and Solomon installed large administrations to help them run the country.
Jesus called 12 disciples to assist him. Later, he sent them out as apostles to take the gospel to all nations. Paul appointed elders and deacons in the churches he planted. He also sent letters to Timothy and Titus to help them lead local churches.
Several good ideas can be united into a better one.
Jacob Van Zyl of Lethbridge is a retired counsellor and the author of several faith-based books.

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