Daily D – Luke 10:1
After this, the Lord appointed seventy-two others, and he sent them ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself was about to go.
LUKE 10:1 (CSB)
Chris Voss is a former FBI hostage negotiator. He wrote a masterful book about his education and experiences entitled, Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It.
Voss says the best negotiation is done by teams, not by individuals. Hostage negotiation requires intense focus on what is said and what is not spoken aloud but is evident in the pauses and silences and tones of voice. He says it is easy for one person to miss something important or critical. Two or three persons listening, however, can pick up on important shifts in mood.
At a bank robbery that went bad where hostages were taken, Voss and his teammates were talking to one of the robbers. As he and his partners listened deeply, an agent told Chris to ask, “Do you want to come out?” He had heard something in his voice that led him to believe the robber did not want to die and wanted the whole thing to be over.
Voss asked, “Do you want to come out?” The robber asked, “How could I do that?” Bingo. Everything changed at that moment. Within a couple of hours, everyone—bank robbers, hostages, FBI personnel, and police officers—walked away from the scene alive.
Voss makes the point that he missed the shift that his partner heard. “Two are better than one,” Ecclesiastes 4:9 tells us, “because they have a good reward for their efforts.” Verse 12 says, “A cord of three strands is not easily broken.”
Jesus practiced this principle. In Luke 10:1 we read, “After this, the Lord appointed seventy-two others, and he sent them ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself was about to go.” Paul practiced this principle. Barnabas practiced this principle. Peter practiced this principle.
Books on visionary leadership were abundant when I was a young pastor. If you wanted to get rich quick in the church market, all you had to do was write a book about vision. I read several of the better-known titles and authors. Most of the advice was about the pastor crafting and communicating his vision.
My Egyptian doctor saw one of these books in my hand at his office one day and asked me about it. As I explained its premise, the words felt incomplete as they tumbled out of my mouth. Something was missing.
I was reminded of an attempt to impose vision on a group of leaders. Everything went according to the books until I stopped talking and the listeners started asking questions. It did not take long to realize I did not have all the answers. It became apparent that I had missed some details. I, dear friends, have blind spots. So do you. We need each other.
Moses knew this. When he argued with God about his commission in Exodus 3 and 4, he freely confessed that he could not do everything God wanted him to do. He was not up to the task. God agreed. Aaron was already on his way to meet Moses and to join him in the work. Where God guided, God provided a partner.
The best leadership, hostage negotiation, and family decision-making is done by teams, not by individuals. There are moments when you and I have to make individual decisions in moments of crisis. Blissfully so, these are few in number. Even then our decisions flow from the influence of significant others who have shaped our lives and the values we hold in common.
The next time you want to change the world, change your community, change your home, or change your mind, invite wise and reliable others to join you. Seek the guidance of men and women who see what you cannot, who know what you do not.
Two are better than one. Ask Chris Voss. Ask Moses. Ask Peter, Paul, and Barnabas. Ask Jesus.
I will not lead alone.
Our Father, isolated leaders are endangered leaders and they put others at risk. Give us the wisdom to lead ourselves and others in community with those who know what we do not and who see what we cannot. Thank you for creating us for community. Surround us with men and women we can partner with to honor you and to serve others. Amen.
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John 5:19 Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, the Son is not able to do anything on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, the Son likewise does these things. (CSB)
Ezra 3:12 But many of the older priests, Levites, and family heads, who had seen the first temple, wept loudly when they saw the foundation of this temple, but many others shouted joyfully. (CSB)