TOO MANY VOLUNTEERS
by David Sisler
Suppose for a moment that you've been given the job of recruiting volunteers. You have a large base from which to work, so you are thinking, "Maybe I can enlist a few dozen, perhaps as many as a hundred." You are staggered when 32,000 people actually volunteer.
But that is not the most amazing thing - the leader who asked you to do the job looks over your group and says, "That's too many. Cut the group down."
"Too many!" you say. "I was just thinking, we could do an even better job if we had that many more."
"No," says the leader, "tell everyone who is the least bit fearful of the task ahead to go home. There will be no hard feelings."
So you tell them and more than 20,000 quit. Most of them are thinking, "Boy, that was lucky. Why did I ever raise my hand in the first place? After all, it really was a stupid idea."
Okay. You have 10,000 volunteers left. You approach the leader and say, "When do we start?"
"Not so fast," he says. "There are still too many. I'll thin the number for you."
When he's finished, less than one percent of the first group, only 300 people, remain to do the task for which you originally recruited 32,000. But the leader says, "Take those 300. You will be successful. You will accomplish all of your goals."
That scenario is more than an interesting game of "Let's Suppose." It actually happened. The man who called for volunteers was Gideon. The Leader was God.
Israel was a small nation with a large enemy. The Midianites frequently attacked Israel and ravaged the land. The invaders carried off so many crops and so much livestock Israel was impoverished. At God's direction, Gideon raised an army of volunteers to defend their country.
"32,000 soldiers are too many," God told Gideon, "because with that number you will win the upcoming battle, but you will claim the credit for yourselves. You will believe it was your military skill and not my power which brought you victory."
God knew what most of us are slow to learn. We are quick to trust in large numbers, or great plans of our own devising. We are hesitant to lean on God and place our affairs totally in His hands. If we succeed, we want the credit. God says, "It is not by might, nor by power, but it is by my Spirit."
So Gideon told anyone who was fearful to go home and 22,000 of his volunteers quit. Those 22,000 were not an asset to the cause, they were a liability. It seemed like a glorious campaign, but when they reexamined the situation they wanted out. They had not counted the cost.
Some people came to Jesus one day and said, "Lord, we will follow you no matter where you are going!" Jesus very carefully explained that following Him meant carrying their own cross and dying out to themselves. At that point many who had been casual followers stopped following. Jesus never conned anyone.
After one more winnowing, the number was reduced to 300. "There," God told Gideon, "take that 300. I will give you a victory so glorious and so complete everyone will know that it was I, the Lord, who moved on your behalf!"
God's strategy does not depend on numbers. We count heads. God counts hearts. God can use 12 disciples, 6 jars of water, 5 loaves, 2 fish, or one ordinary believer.
So many people look at a situation as a difficulty and not an opportunity. Overwhelmed by all of the possibilities, they say, "I'm only one person. There's nothing I can do about it." Never forget, God had only one Son and He died to save a world. With the help of that Son you can change a life. Yours.
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Copyright 2001 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.
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