The Sprinkler Effect

And it came to pass on the way, at the encampment, that the Lord met him and sought to kill him. Then Zipporah took a sharp stone and cut off the foreskin of her son and cast it at Moses’ feet, and said, “Surely you are a husband of blood to me!” So He let him go. Then she said, “ You are a husband of blood!”—because of the circumcision. (Exodus 4:24-26 NKJV)

Years ago, when I was involved in vocational youth ministry with Youth For Christ, I was warned about “The Sprinkler Effect”. Sometimes old oscillating sprinklers would water a lawn leaving the area around the sprinkler relatively dry. In life, ministry, and leadership, the sprinkler represents us and the area around the sprinkler represents those people and responsibilities closest to us. We were told it was dangerous to do great ministry to youth while neglecting our own families.

In Moses’ case he was on his way to Egypt to do a great ministry work but failed to take care of his spiritual responsibilities at home. As a result God wasn’t pleased and sought to kill him. Hear me: God was sending Moses to deliver more than a million people from slavery but was about to kill him for neglecting to minister to his wife and kids.

No matter how large the task, crowd, or opportunity, it’s unacceptable to neglect our families, ministry teams, or employees. Failure to tend to the needs of those around us can lead to death. Marriages die when we water the ministry or job more than our spouses. Business morale will die when we chase customers without taking care of our employees. If it could happen to Moses it could happen to us too.

Make a conscious effort to water and nourish those closest to you. They need and value your time and attention more than anyone else.

Preparing to Serve

Now it came to pass the same night that the Lord said to him, “Take your father’s young bull, the second bull of seven years old, and tear down the altar of Baal that your father has, and cut down the wooden image that is beside it; and build an altar to the Lord your God on top of this rock in the proper arrangement, and take the second bull and offer a burnt sacrifice with the wood of the image which you shall cut down.” (Judges 6:25, 26 NKJV)

Gideon had an encounter with the Angel of The Lord where he was called to deliver Israel from the Midianites. On the same night The Lord instructed him to tear down the altar of Baal, cut down the wooden image, build an altar to The Lord, and make a sacrifice. These instructions helped to prepare Gideon for spiritual service. Here are some thoughts on how we can apply them today.

Make some sacrifices.
Here in the south football is a big part of our culture. There are some Christians who are so devoted to football they are rarely available to serve on Friday nights, Saturdays, or Sunday afternoons. This devotion borders on idolatry. In order for someone like this to truly serve, they will have to sacrifice some time for God instead of sacrificing it all for football. If all of our time, talents, and treasure are tied to other things we won’t have anything to contribute to serving The Lord.

Be authentic.
Our world is full of false images like the one Gideon cut down. Some of us portray false images as we try to “fake it til we make it”. Unfortunately, when we do this for too long we just end up deceiving ourselves. God isn’t fooled by inauthentic service and neither are the people we serve. Just like you can tell if your waiter is really interested in serving you, others can see through our false pretenses and tell if we’re sincere in our service.

Be intentional about bringing God glory.
Gideon was told to build the altar of God in the “proper arrangement”. In a nation that was lost and turned away from God, it was critical that the altar and the sacrifices were an intentional testimony for God. Before we set out to do an act of service we need to be intentional about how we will honor God. Otherwise we could feed the homeless but never share our faith. We could clothe the naked and fail to express God’s love to them. People will receive our goods but God won’t get the glory. So be strategic, intentional, and missional in service.

Serving God is an honor, privilege, and responsibility. It requires sacrifice, authenticity, and intentionality. Pray that God will lead you to make the right sacrifices to prepare yourself for service.