Skip to main content

Everybody has work: Numbers 4

There is nothing worse for a society than an entire group of people with nothing to do. While that assertion can likely be argued by sociologists to be true or false, I think it is verifiable as an historical reality. Either the desire to do nothing corrupts a society into slavery and oppression, or the idle put their effort into devising ways to control society.

Even in microcosm, we see this to be true. Take a school and look at who becomes the troubled students: it is the ones who have nothing to do. Either because they are not expected to do more or whose learning styles do not match with the way things are presented, leading to them not be able to work within the system. Or it is the intelligent who get done and have nothing to do…

Or within a church: those who have nothing to do, no service to participate in, no freedom to do what they are best at—these folks either drift away or sit and get bored. This is why the organized worship services of many churches are not effective—idleness leads to boredom.

We come, then, to Numbers 4. Within Numbers 4 appear to be the mundane duties assigned to individual families within the Levites, giving their roles. Some were to carry this, some were to carry that. Others cover this material while another gathers that one.

In short, everyone has something to do. There is neither the exclusion of a family as too insignificant, nor the exaltation of a group as too important to do anything. Everyone needed something to do, and everyone had something to do.

What do we do with this?

First, we do not allow ourselves to think so highly of ourselves that we think we do not need to do anything. No one is too important to take out the trash or mow the lawn. Some may not have the ability, others the opportunity, but no one is above the work. Whatever you may good at, whatever your gifts and abilities may be, there are times that certain things just need done. Do it.

Second, we need to consider paying attention to the breakdown of tasks. It is possible, at times, to break down a major task, like moving the Tabernacle, into small units. By doing so, everyone can be involved. This keeps people connected to each other and focused on the task. This impacts especially strongly in churches: find ways for the work to be available to all. Part of our problem as Southern Baptists is that one group has this work, another that, but there is no unity of purpose.

Third, we need to be clear on expectations. The Gershonites had no doubts about their job. What about you? Do you know what you should do? Do you, if you lead, make it clear what you need others to do? Make it clear: this is what we need to do.

Clarity of need, clarity of purpose. These things help us know what we are doing. Division of labor? That’s as critical: this keeps us unified in doing.


Popular posts from this blog

Book: By the Waters of Babylon

Worship. It is what the church does as we strive to honor God with our lips and our lives. And then, many churches argue about worship. I have about a half-dozen books on my shelf about worship, but adding Scott Aniol’s By the Waters of Babylon to the shelf has been excellent.

First of all, Aniol’s work is not based on solving a musical debate. While that branch of worship is often the most troublesome in the local church, By the Waters of Babylon takes a broader view. The starting point is the place of the church. That place is a parallel of Psalm 137, where the people of God, Israel, found themselves in a strange land. The people of God, again, find themselves in a strange land.
Second, in summary, the book works logically to the text of Scripture, primarily Psalm 137 but well-filled with other passages. Then it works outward from how the text addresses the problems submitted in the first chapter into how worship, specifically corporate worship, should look in the 21st century Weste…

Book Review: The Heart Mender by @andyandrews (Andy Andrews)

The Heart Mender: A Story of Second ChancesEver read a book that you just kind of wish is true?  That's my take on The Heart Mender by Andy Andrews.  It's a charming story of love and forgiveness, and it's woven into the historical setting of World War II America.  For the narrative alone, the book is worth the read, but the message it contains is well worth absorbing as well.However, let's drop back a minute.  This book was originally published under the title Island of Saints.  I read Island of Saints and enjoyed it greatly.  Now, Andrews has released it under a new title, with a few minor changes.  All of this is explained in the Author's Note at the beginning, but should be noted for purchaser's sake.  If you read Island of Saints, you're rereading when you read The Heart Mender.  Now, go ahead and reread it.  It will not hurt you one bit.Overall, the story is well-paced.  There are points where I'd like more detail, both in the history and the geog…

Sermon Recap for October 14

Here is what you'll find: there is an audio player with the sermon audios built-in to it, just click to find the one you want. You'll also find the embedded Youtube videos of each sermon.If you'd like, you can subscribe to the audio feed here: for iTunes users. Other audio feeds go here: video is linked on my personal Youtube Page here: are stockpiled here:!