Women and men scream at the appearance of this tiny creature.  If you dare to look eye to eye with the insect, it resembles a monster from a science fiction TV show.  No matter what your fears or concerns are about a spider, everyone admits that the construction and architectural abilities of that tiny insect is nothing short of miraculous. 

However, Ori Brafman and Rod S. Beckstrom in their book, The Starfish and the Spider contend that the current forms of management are much more unlikely to succeed because they are constructed like a spider.  Their thesis says that if you cut off the leg of a spider, it is crippled.  If you cut off the head of a spider, it is dead.

While I haven’t read the book but merely listened to an interview on NPR about the book, I was fascinated with the interesting supposition set forth by the authors.  Their contention that an organization that is built about a strong head is eventually doomed to failure.  I have no idea whether Brafman and Beckstrom are Christians.  It is reasonable to assume that they are not.  However, I learned long ago that we can obtain wisdom from many sources.  In fact, I’ve always contended that if a fact is true, it is either scriptural or it does not contradict the scriptures because the Bible is true.

On hearing the spider analogy, my thoughts immediately jumped to The Special Gathering and other specialized ministries.  Richard Stimson, our executive director, has worked hard to NOT have a spider organization in this ministry.  He desired to gradually divorce the success of the ministry from himself.  This has been difficult for him because he realized that in the early decades of The Special Gathering, the Richard Stimson name was closely connected with the Special Gathering ministry brand. 

Other ministry founders have worked equally hard to keep their ministry branding as closely connected to them as possible.  There is great wisdom in this, especially at the starting point of a work for God.  Yet, there is a time for a break from the personalized branding of a special needs ministry if it is to grow and be maintained.

Years ago, there was an ongoing discussion regarding the need for decentralization and the succession of a ministry head.  One woman with a very successful ministry in a large church refuted that this was any concern.  “The Lord will take care of those details,” she would sternly rebuke the men or women who expressed concerns.  However, at a young age, she contracted cancer and died within a few months.  There are no one to take her place and the ministry is now dead.  It would be wonderful if this were an isolated case but we all know that it isn’t.  When any ministry is built around a personality, then it will usually fail when the person dies.

Jesus left this earth and delegated the spreading of the gospel to 11 men.  With the help and anointing of the Holy Spirit, the world was turned upside down within a few generations.  There is still much to do in specialized ministry.  Perhaps God is waiting for a few of us old spiders to realize that it’s time to raise up people who are called by God and desire to continue this important work.