Are Your Loaves-and-Fish Leaders Playing Hide-and-Seek? 


Your ministry could use more “loaves-and fish leaders”—leaders who believe in the potential of five loaves and two fish before God multiplies in miraculous ways. But here’s the catch, they’re probably playing hide-and-seek in your church.

Pastors and ministry leaders are always on the lookout for faith-filled dreamers and doers to pave the way. So where do you find gifted, forward moving disciples who see what could be, depend on the Lord for direction and resources, and rally others together to make it happen? Start by revisiting Jesus’ miraculous mountainside meal and then go draw some loaves-and-fish leaders out of hiding to make a Kingdom difference.

Of Course It’s Not Enough

“You want us to do what?” The disciples looked at Jesus in disbelief. “How can we possibly fill the stomachs of all these exhausted, hungry people?”

The feeding of the 5,000 is recorded in all four gospels, but only one sheds light on the heart of the situation. In Matthew, Mark, and Luke, the Lord tells His leadership team to do the impossible: “You give them something to eat.” But in John’s account (Jn. 6:1-14), an unexpected loaves-and-fish leader emerges from hiding.

Have you ever wondered what was going on with the kid who got drawn into the mix? After being drawn in to see what the Lord would do with his mediocre lunch, this young boy had a front row seat to adults in panic mode. The disciples’ disbelief and defensiveness spoke volumes as their faith and leadership began unraveling. At least Andrew put an idea on the table before second guessing it. The only one, apart from Jesus, that approached this scene with open hands was the hungry, limited-resourced child. He was willing to give up everything to see what God could and would do.

The miracle before the miracle at the feeding of the 5,000 is the faith and leadership exhibited by the kid with the lunch. He knew full well that five loaves and two fish wasn’t enough to feed all the men, women, and children in the crowd. Without realizing it, this unnamed boy led the way, side-by-side with Jesus, as a loaves-and-fish leader. He believed in the potential of five loaves and two fish before God multiplied it—and then the Lord used his gift to bless everyone’s bellies as far as the eye could see!

Draw Out the Ones Waiting in the Wings

Are you currently limiting your search for loaves-and-fish leaders to adults? As you probably already know, grown-ups who follow Jesus aren’t always clued in to what the Lord is up to. Because of this, they have a hard time stepping out of the shadows into faith and leadership. They’re comfortably waiting in the wings of your church while holding back others with even greater potential.

Children, on the other hand, trust God’s voice and vision with much greater receptivity. They make fantastic leaders because they’re humble and trusting—two traits that fuel their sincere faith. It’s no wonder Paul said to his protégé: “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). Timothy wasn’t a kid at the time, but how young is too young to pave the way as a loaves-and-fishes leader? Just ask the boy that Andrew found.

If you’re serious about seeking out godly leadership, begin by visiting your children’s and youth ministries. It’s where loaves-and-fish leaders are playing hide-and-seek…quite literally! Kids don’t know they have leadership potential, but they believe God is big, His Kingdom matters, and He’s up to something significant. They can do way more to serve your church and community than you may currently think. Many of them are willing to show up if someone will simply call them out of hiding to make a difference. They’ll bring their faith and leadership potential, limited resources, and even their lunch if needed to watch how God will multiply it.

Loaves-and-fish leaders are here, there, and everywhere, but you have to look for them in every corner of your church—including children’s and youth ministry. Don’t let age keep you from making significant ministry asks of God’s children. Many kids are spiritually gifted, forward moving disciples who see what could be, depend on the Lord for direction and resources, and can rally others together to make it happen. And, by drawing out these unlikely leadership candidates, you’ll keep growing as a loaves-and-fish leader too.

Dan Lovaglia is an author, speaker, and children’s ministry catalyst at Awana. He is passionate about propelling relational discipleship forward in the lives of kids, families, and leaders through the local church. He and his wife live in the northwest suburbs of Chicago with their two fantastic teenage sons and rescue dog Rookie.

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