When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue.” And Jesus went with them. Luke 7:3-7
And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. Hebrews 11:6
For me, this story (from Luke 7) about the centurion’s sick servant is all about “worthiness”. It is about the qualities or characteristics which Jesus found worthy. And it is chock full of irony. Notice that the Jewish elders attempt to lure Jesus to come and help this centurion, because this man is “worthy”. Their version of “worthy” is all about his achievements and his support of them. Interestingly, Jesus goes. As he is arriving, the centurion sends a message to Jesus. What is that message? “No need to come here…I AM NOT WORTHY.” But, in the end, Jesus actually finds that he is in fact worthy. But not for any of the reasons the Jewish elders had used.
Jesus finds the man worthy because of his great faith. This centurion believed that Jesus was whom he claimed to be and that he could heal his servant. It wasn’t his achievements that made him worthy. It wasn’t his financial and political support for the synagogue that made him worthy. It wasn’t his terrific people skills nor his dynamic leadership nor his heart for serving. It was purely and simply his great faith. The writer of Hebrews said it as well: “Without faith it is impossible to please God…”.
The question, then, this raises about us as leaders is this: what is our plan for growing people up in their faith? What strategies or systems do we have in place designed to move a person from one level of faith to the next? How does that look under your leadership?
I do not suppose any of us can answer those questions with any degree of clarity unless we can first identify a certain growth trajectory in our own faith. Being found worthy ourselves, due to an ever-deepening faith, is pretty much a prerequisite to being able to lead others on that path. How are you marking that growth in yourself?
As is so often the case, Jesus looks well beyond the things which we typically use to measure “worth” (if he looks at those things at all) and looks to our level of faith. Similarly, when he looks at our people, whom we are leading and growing and shaping, he is not looking at their tithing history nor their service record nor their great knowledge of scripture. He is checking their faith.
As a church leader, will you spend some time this week checking your own faith journey in recent months? Is it growing? Deepening? And as you use the next coupe of months planning for next year, will you ask yourself how your ministry plan is purposeful about deepening people’s faith? It is about being found worthy.