The Israelites were ready to move in. Comprised of 12 tribes, they had wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. The time had come to claim the land God promised them. However, before they could unload the moving vans, God’s people needed to evict the current residents.
Two of the tribes decided they were just fine staying east of the Jordan River. They were content to settle down on their farms and enjoy life. That left 10 tribes to conquer Canaan and establish their own settlements.
General Moses didn’t seem to fault the Gadites and Reubenites for wanting to claim the land they were requesting. But Moses used some strong words and called them “a brood of sinners.” (Numbers 32:14) Ouch! Moses reminded the Gadites and Reubenites that the last time the majority refused to cross the Jordan River and lay claim to the Promised Land, the entire nation of Israel suffered for 40 years.
What happened next defies our naturally sinful tendencies. The two tribes promised to cross the Jordan with their brethren and not return to their families and farms until Canaan was conquered and inhabited by the rest of the Israelites. (See Numbers 32:18.)
God’s people chose to operate as one unit and follow God’s plan. We see this unity principle played out again in the New Testament as Jesus established His bride, the Church. Notice how the early Christians considered the needs of the faith community over their individual needs: “Now all the believers were together and held all things in common. They sold their possessions and property and distributed the proceeds to all, as any had need.” (Acts 2:44-45)
Just as the Gadites and Reubenites chose to do what was best for the entire faith community, we as Christ followers are called to, “work for the good of all, especially for those who belong to the household of faith.” (Galatians 6:10) Unfortunately, we live in an increasingly narcissistic society. We’re told, “Do what is best for you.” Follow your heart. If it feels good, do it. Take 50 selfies until you’re ready to post on social media the one photo that makes you look like a celebrity.
Nonetheless, God calls us as kidmin leaders to live counterculturally and not as narcissists. The Gadites, Reubenites, and early Christians certainly chose countercultural paths. Rather than fighting for “my ministry,” we should cooperate with other leaders in our churches to follow God’s plan for our entire faith community. All the while, discipling kids to become cooperating church members who care for and love one another for the sake of the gospel.
Landry Holmes is the Manager of Lifeway Kids Ministry Publishing. A graduate of Howard Payne University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Landry served on church staffs before joining Lifeway Kids. He is a church leader, writer, workshop facilitator, and publisher. Landry also teaches children at his church in Middle Tennessee. He and his wife Janetta are the parents of two adult sons and two daughters-in-law, and the grandparents of four grandchildren.