A volunteer doesn’t show up, a staff member blows off a deadline or a key leader gives a half hearted effort. A low commitment level of a team member can do serious damage to the focus of a leader, morale of a team and the success of a mission. Therefore it’s essential as leaders that we know how to encourage the highest level of commitment from our followers.
Jesus and his disciples were making their way to Jerusalem when he was approached by a man wanting to join His team. Luke’s report says, “As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’” (Luke 9:57) Here’s a man who enthusiastically volunteered without being asked. And not only does he volunteer but his words indicate a high level of commitment.
But look at Jesus response, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” (Luke 9:58) At first glance Jesus seems to be discouraging this volunteer rather than embracing him. But in actuality Jesus was simply clarifying expectations. We know from Matthews’s account that this man was a Scribe, meaning he was an expert in the law and most likely lived a very comfortable, even luxurious lifestyle.
Jesus didn’t want this man’s enthusiasm to distract him from the realities of the call. If you look back at Luke 9:51-56 you see Jesus and his disciples were refused a place to stay just that very day. This was a reality of following Jesus and this man needed to be aware. And keep in mind the Scribes saw Jesus as an enemy. Any Scribe who switched to Jesus “team” would be viewed as a traitor. Following Jesus wouldn’t be an easy calling for this man and Jesus wanted him to count the cost.
Have you ever come across an Enthusiastic Beginner who you thought would make the biggest difference in your ministry, only to have them quit two months later because it wasn’t what they thought it would be? Leaders make a critical mistake when they equate the enthusiasm of a new recruit with commitment. So here’s the first lesson for creating a high level of commitment Always set out Clear Expectations from the Beginning.