My Dad, who taught at a university, use to always say, “Not all of my students do well but I take comfort because Jesus had Judas, he did not do that well either.” For my Dad, Jesus was a benchmark for teachers. When I read John 1:6-13 I found a benchmark for ministry in John the Baptist.
I love making mindmaps and concept maps. The one above came from this morning’s devotional time. It starts out with two ‘IF’ statements in ovals that point to one ‘THEN’ statement in a box. God sent John to so that everyone would believe and Jesus said that John was the greatest man that ever lived. Therefore he must have done a great job.
After concluding that John is a benchmark I gave some reasons for (in yellow) and against the idea (in green). The only thing against it was the geographical and national limitation of John’s ministry. This is not really a strong argument because the disciples of John spread out over a very large geographical area which we see in the Bible book of Acts.
If, however, we just look at John’s direct ministry it becomes clear that he reached many segments of society and large numbers of people. He reached the villagers and priests; he reached the political leaders and aristocracy. Part of that was getting some of the aristocracy so angry with him that he ended up in jail and later recieved the death penalty. But he did reach out to them.
This is part of my point. Not everyone followed John; not everyone turned to Jesus because of John. But we do know that a benchmark ministry reaches into all segments of society and extends throughout a nation and into other lands as well.
Today we are all looking for benchmarks in ministry. Mostly we look to successful churches and ministries to set the pace for us. The missional leaders and Church Planting Movement leaders all have their take on things, what our standards should be. The life of John the Baptist helps us understand a bit of what God sees as the standard for ministry. John was a humble radical who made disciples, reached out to all people and touched the lives of every part of society..