May you be covered with the dust of your rabbi.

Distance learning, zoom conferences, home working – in this post-lockdown world in which we live, people, businesses and churches are finding ever-increasing ways to continue communicating without actually having to be anywhere near the people with whom they are communicating.

Social distancing has become the ‘new norm’, with various large businesses having decided to abandon their requirement to have staff come into an office or work location. It saves time, money and keeps people safe. But the big casualty in all of this is that building into others – what the Bible calls discipleship – can only be done effectively at close quarters.

If you were called to follow a rabbi, you would take on their set of rules and their teaching so that, one day, those disciples would be able to pass on the rabbi’s teaching to a future generation. Those rules, teachings and prayers were called a ‘yoke’.

Each rabbi had a ‘yoke’ that they sought to impart to their chosen disciples. Hence Jesus, in calling His disciples to follow Him, invited them to take His ‘Yoke’ upon them, to learn from Him and grow to be like Him. They would literally imitate their rabbi in every way – both his teaching and his mannerisms. As a new disciple would leave his family and friends and begin to follow the rabbi, his family and friends would send him off with the following words: ‘May you be covered with the dust of your rabbi’. In other words, may you follow your rabbi so closely that the dust from the road that came from the feet of the rabbi would actually fall on that disciple and cover him.

For the Jews, being taught by a Rabbi was an up-close-and-personal experience. How else could you observe the habits and mannerisms of that rabbi? You could get his teaching from a distance, but for that teaching to come alive and really impact you, you had to be so close that the dust from his feet would settle on you.

In all of our modern, high-tech ways of  communicating leadership training, from digital  downloads to following our favourite leaders on  Twitter, it is easy to forget that simple rabbinical  wisdom, that we only truly learn when we are up  close and personal – when the dust of that person  is falling on us.

As leaders we want the people who  are following us to be led to Jesus, to become like  Him, to take His yoke upon them. However, to  lead people to that, we often forget that it is  our dust that needs to fall on them first.  People look to us, not for perfection, but for  a consistent foot fall; a consistent walk with  Jesus ourselves. They observe us, assess  the reality of the impact there has been on us  following Jesus, in order to grow into taking  Jesus’ yoke upon themselves. In  encouraging people to take Jesus’ yoke on  themselves, we are encouraging them to  become His disciples, not just part of the  crowd who observe from a distance. 

The truth is, we cannot effectively lead from a  distance. In the arena of raising up disciples,  a lot more is caught than taught. That  requires us to have two things in abundance:  consistency and community. We need to be  living out the life that we are teaching others  about, and we need to be allowing people  access to the real ‘us’ – allowing them to get  close enough to us that the dust from our feet  covers them. 

The high-tech, distance-learning version of  leadership was for a season, but nothing beats the  up-close-and-personal, dust-covered leadership  that Jesus was talking about. 

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened,  and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and  learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart,  and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is  easy and my burden is light.

(Matthew 11:28-30)

The Harvest Appeal 2021 was launched on October 31st.

The vision  of this appeal is to raise sufficient finds to buy the bricks to  build a Rural Community Hospital in Malawi. This is the vision  of Pastor Andrew Mithowa, a University graduate in the field of  Medicine and the pastor of the Kingfisher Church Centre in  Limbe, southern Malawi. The goal was to raise £3000 to buy  100,000 bricks. Due to the amazing generosity of people at  Kingfisher, within the first week of this Appeal, £5,500 has been  given or pledged. This will enable us to not only buy the bricks for  the walls of the building, but to purchase a roof as well. The more  money that is raised, the more we can contribute to the building of  this hospital. Could we, for example, manage to raise sufficient funds  to put in the doors and the windows? To bring electricity to the  building?

Thank you so much for all that has been raised so far – let’s  keep believing for a miracle for the rest of the building!

Still available from the Resources page on our web site:

Kingfisher Family celebrates its 30th birthday