2 Chronicles 2:1-18 (Part 4) – The Right People in the Right Seats!

Posted: July 8, 2020 in 14-2 Chronicles

2 Chronicles 2:1-18 (Part 4 of 5)

Preparations for Building the Temple

Opening Illustration/Comments

The right people in the right seats. That was a constant mantra of my first mentor in ministry, Pastor Jeff Hickman at LifeSong Church in Lyman, SC. He was talking about leadership within the church. We had many areas of ministry organized under five broad categories within the organization there. The five areas were Sunday Morning Experience (anything to do with worship or Sunday morning volunteers), Next Generation (children and youth ministries), Discipleship & Life Groups (anything to do with spiritual development and with in-home small groups), Community Transformation (anything to do with local, national and international missions and outreach activities), and Administration (anything to do with the ongoing operations of the church such as Maintenance, Vendor Management, Financial Reporting, people management systems, and so on). In a church that regularly has 700 plus guests on campus each weekend who call LifeSong their spiritual home, it is imperative that all of these areas of ministry function well. In that, the saying “the right people in the right seats” was an ongoing mantra.

The leaders of each area of ministry of the church was one of the staff pastors or the lead pastor. Finding the right church members for the right seats of leadership was an ongoing thing. People come and people go as far as leadership is concerned in a church this size and particularly in market such as the Greenville-Spartanburg, SC market where people are moving in and moving out all the time. Thus, just as an example, we left LifeSong to go into full-time ministry in February 2018 when we moved to Illinois. That is almost 2 ½ years ago now. When I see pictures of the congregation at LifeSong now just that 2 ½ years later, I don’t recognize about 30% or so of the people now going to the church. Thus, leadership development and retention is an ongoing issue for this church. It would be easy just to allow whomever says they want to lead a ministry lead it. That’s the easy way. What is harder is to find a person that is passionate about serving the church in the way that they are talented. When you find that, you have something. You have a ministry leader.

This is true for all churches but it is particularly acute in smaller churches. Often times in smaller churches, ministry positions get filled by whomever is the “one who has always done that” or the one that said yes that they would fill that position. Too often in smaller churches, the volunteer leadership positions recommended by the denomination or other church governance authority are just being filled so that we can put a name on a blank line without any consideration as to whether that person (1) is passionate about the ministry which they are going to lead, (2) are talented in the necessary ways for that ministry and (3) whether they have leadership ability. Too often, we don’t have the right people in the right seats. We often just rely on that group of people who have always been the leaders of the church and use their names to fill blank lines on a leadership report. When that happens, ministry suffers. When that happens, people don’t lead because that are not passionate about the blank line they are filling and may not even be talented in that area of ministry by the Holy Spirit.

It is that idea of just having bodies to fill blank lines and the idea of having the right people in the right seats is what I thought about this morning when reading this passage, 2 Chronicles 2:1-18, once again. Let’s read through it again this morning, together, with these ideas in mind:

Scripture Passage

2 [a]Solomon decided to build a Temple to honor the name of the Lord, and also a royal palace for himself. 2 [b]He enlisted a force of 70,000 laborers, 80,000 men to quarry stone in the hill country, and 3,600 foremen.

3 Solomon also sent this message to King Hiram[c] at Tyre:

“Send me cedar logs as you did for my father, David, when he was building his palace. 4 I am about to build a Temple to honor the name of the Lord my God. It will be a place set apart to burn fragrant incense before him, to display the special sacrificial bread, and to sacrifice burnt offerings each morning and evening, on the Sabbaths, at new moon celebrations, and at the other appointed festivals of the Lord our God. He has commanded Israel to do these things forever.

5 “This must be a magnificent Temple because our God is greater than all other gods. 6 But who can really build him a worthy home? Not even the highest heavens can contain him! So who am I to consider building a Temple for him, except as a place to burn sacrifices to him?

7 “So send me a master craftsman who can work with gold, silver, bronze, and iron, as well as with purple, scarlet, and blue cloth. He must be a skilled engraver who can work with the craftsmen of Judah and Jerusalem who were selected by my father, David.

8 “Also send me cedar, cypress, and red sandalwood[d] logs from Lebanon, for I know that your men are without equal at cutting timber in Lebanon. I will send my men to help them. 9 An immense amount of timber will be needed, for the Temple I am going to build will be very large and magnificent. 10 In payment for your woodcutters, I will send 100,000 bushels of crushed wheat, 100,000 bushels of barley,[e] 110,000 gallons of wine, and 110,000 gallons of olive oil.[f]”

11 King Hiram sent this letter of reply to Solomon:

“It is because the Lord loves his people that he has made you their king! 12 Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, who made the heavens and the earth! He has given King David a wise son, gifted with skill and understanding, who will build a Temple for the Lord and a royal palace for himself.

13 “I am sending you a master craftsman named Huram-abi, who is extremely talented. 14 His mother is from the tribe of Dan in Israel, and his father is from Tyre. He is skillful at making things from gold, silver, bronze, and iron, and he also works with stone and wood. He can work with purple, blue, and scarlet cloth and fine linen. He is also an engraver and can follow any design given to him. He will work with your craftsmen and those appointed by my lord David, your father.

15 “Send along the wheat, barley, olive oil, and wine that my lord has mentioned. 16 We will cut whatever timber you need from the Lebanon mountains and will float the logs in rafts down the coast of the Mediterranean Sea[g] to Joppa. From there you can transport the logs up to Jerusalem.”

17 Solomon took a census of all foreigners in the land of Israel, like the census his father had taken, and he counted 153,600. 18 He assigned 70,000 of them as common laborers, 80,000 as quarry workers in the hill country, and 3,600 as foremen.

Passage Analysis

In this passage, it may lead us to ask the question, “why use foreign craftsmen?” The Israelites were an agriculturally-based (or agrarian) society. As a result, they had very little expertise within their culture in metalworking. Thus, they had to go outside their nation to find people who were experts in this area. Solomon could have picked someone inside the nation who had experience (but not expertise) in metalworking to just have a body or bodies in those metalworking positions. However, what they would have been able to accomplish would not have matched the splendor envisioned for the Temple. In the business world, the desire is always to hire from within, but sometimes you have to recognize that there is not enough expertise within the organization at a particular skill to meet the organization’s needs. At that recognition, a company then goes outside the organization to find the expertise necessary for the envisioned position and for the needs of the organization as a whole.

It is a reminder to us as the church in the 21st century that we must have, as the saying goes, the right people in the right seats to make our church organizations reaches its fullest potential for the kingdom. When we just have bodies in positions who are not passionate about or not talented in the area over which they have responsibility, it stunts the ability of the church to reach that potential.

Life Application

I think that the thing that stands out to me is that in every church there is this issue of warm bodies to fill a position vs. having the right people in the right seats. Just because we are church does not mean we should settle for less than excellent. Too often that is the case for church in so many ways, we give it our leftovers, from time to talents to resources, you name it. It is particularly acute when it comes to leadership. We often find in churches that people don’t want to run a ministry because it requires too much of them from their free time. I want to say well there was this guy who had a full-time job of being one of the co-equal parts of the trinitarian expressions of God, who took on a church leadership position by coming to earth for 33 years, and then dying an excruciatingly painful death on the cross for the church, but that’s just Jesus. He was the best volunteer ever! But back to the point, we then scramble to just put people in seats rather than the right people in the right seats.

Even in smaller churches we must recognize that if we use the same people over and over again for the same positions and have a small group of people holding multiple positions several things happen. First, you are going to burn these people out and they become passionless placeholders and begin to think from a perspective of why we can’t do something rather from a perspective of why we can. Second, when we have passionless leadership in a ministry, there is no ministry that is going to happen – heck, some of the leader’s ministry committee members might not even know they are on the committee because passionless leadership has led to inactivity. Third, when we have passionless placeholders instead of leaders, we could be preventing another member of the church with passion for that ministry from actually leading a ministry for which they have passion. We could have someone who has been a member less time that never gets considered and the ministry suffers because they were not put to work in the right place in the church, if at all.

Are you leading a ministry right now for which you are not truly passionate about? Do your committee members hear regularly from you about opportunities to serve the kingdom? Do you think about new ways for your ministry to achieve its kingdom goals? Do you committee members even know they are on the committee that you lead? Is this helping expand God’s kingdom by the way in which you are leading your ministry? The answers to the questions may reveal to you that it is time to start developing a replacement for you. You should begin mentoring someone to take over your ministry position. You should look at who among your fellow church members would be a great fit (passion, talents, and leadership skills) for the ministry which you now lead. Let’s begin to help our churches to find the right people for the right seats! The impact on the kingdom of us doing so will be immeasurably greater – when we have the right people in the right seats.

Amen and Amen.

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