There’s a passage in the Bible where Paul, one of the early church leaders, talks about a problem in a community (1 Corinthians 3).
Apollos and Paul, two preachers who loved to share with others, were both teaching and preaching in the same general area. As a result some people started calling themselves followers of Paul, while others said that Apollos was the one they followed.
Paul’s counsel was to not call yourself a follower of either. Neither he nor Apollos could take credit for helping to share their belief, it was a slow process that took time. He said (my paraphrase) that one person could sow the seed of information, and another might come along and add water to help it grow.
This reminds me of a situation I’ve run into often over the past few years.
Let’s say I have an idea that I want to share with a friend. I’m really excited about a new way to slice bread that I just read about. I tell my friend about it and try to convince them to try it.
A few months later my friend starts slicing bread the way I described.
Naturally I’ll be inclined to take credit for it.
However, what I could easily miss is that I was only one small step in her journey toward choosing to slice bread that way. I didn’t see the conversations she had with another friend about it, the time she looked it up and read about it on her own, and the fact that heard it mentioned two years before I said anything (but decided it wasn’t for her yet).
This is where humility should come in. My natural inclination is to get excited about something, and then share it with others. Over time I start to see results where friends adopt some of the ideas I’ve been sharing. While I may absolutely have been instrumental in their reasons for changing, I don’t know the whole story.
Ultimately it has to become the idea that my friend chooses to own themselves, and they likely came to that decision with lots of factors involved, not just my telling them.
So I’ll keep sharing about the new method of slicing bread, but with an understanding that I’m not the only one involved. Other people are also sharing things they care about!