Author Jim Collins introduced the bus thing to the business world with the publication of his blockbuster Good to Great back in 2001 (Harper Collins, New York: 2001). His research group had examined dozens of good companies to discover how they became great companies over a period of time. The book is loaded with great new language, at least for 2001, about doing business and introduced some concepts that were imitated by people in the corner offices across the fruited plain. Church people, however, weren't that astounded by every aspect of his findings. They seemed familiar.
Like the who's on your bus question? In their study the Collins researchers discovered that the most important question great companies practiced was the "who" question. They had studied the dynamics of mission and pored over the usual suspects of what makes the purpose of the organization actually happen. You know, what? where? why? who? when? how? After studying the data, the group decided that the most strategic question was always the "who" question. He likened the business leader to a bus driver. He decides who gets on and who gets off, where the bus stops, the final destination, and all the other logistics of the trip. Collins and his people decided that the decision of who gets on and who gets off is the most important decision in the eventual travel itinerary. Organizations that had previously labored over mission and purpose statements, operating procedures, objectives and goals suddenly turned their eyes to the human resources department. According to Collins, all the other questions were subsidiary. Who is basic.
Church people who had given even broad study of the who question already knew this. That's because Jesus Christ the Lord demonstrated great care in calling his most intimate circle and spoke often about it. . He spent an entire night in prayer before he called the twelve to constitute his apostles. He reminded them, "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide...." (John 15:16). This significant lesson was etched on the twelve because just affter Jesus was ascended, they gathered in prayer before selecting another eyewitness to join them.
It is the mark of a great spiritual leader to surround himself with people who share the vision God gave him for Kingdom influence. This touches the pastoral office in several ways. Every pastor needs a cluster of accountability colleagues who can provide counsel and guidance in the hard issues of ministry. Also, every Kingdom pastor should have great influence in staffing the church assigned to his care with gifted, talented, and eager leaders who will share and pursue that vision. Every single day I thank God for the wonderful leaders he brought to serve with me in leading the churches he entrusted to my pastoral leadership.
Even more, each of us should face the who question in plotting our own spiritual growth and life journey. Throughout Scripture we are warned of the dangers of surrounding ourselves with the wrong people, such is their influence over us. This is especially true of our teens and younger cohorts. Sociologists say the most important question for teens and pre-teens is the who question because the circle around them help define who they are.
Pastor. Every day ask "who's on your bus?". Believer, parent, young person, do the same.
Remember: "Bad compant ruins good morals" (1 Corinthians 15:33).