Aim for the Ripple, not the Splash.
It was a featured article in the church’s newsletter. For the past year there had been a large number of men attending their presentations, more so than in any other men’s ministry in that state. The men who attended were always eager to come hear the next scheduled speaker. The news coverage mentioned the organizers by name and the awards and recognition given to them. When I visited with one of the leaders of that ministry a few years later, I asked him about the current state of that outreach. He said, “They are not meeting anymore. It all fell apart after a few years. I don’t think anyone of that group is involved anymore in a ministry to my knowledge.” I wondered the following to myself. Were they focused on the program rather than the people? Did they major in the dissemination of information and neglect the importance of transformation? Could they have been more occupied with the splash than with the ripple?
Fortunately, there are endeavors that are planned on a large scale which lead to a significant ripple. I recently heard of one planned by international personalities, entrepreneurs and others who could provide significant financial support. The outreach into many businesses was well described and was obviously going to be prominent visibly. As I compared our ministry with their outreach, I thought that we would never be able to offer anything on a scale similar to theirs. What the Lord had called us to do seemed so common and mundane compared to the enterprise defined in the brochure. Later that evening as I was considering this further, I was reminded of Tom Yeakley’s words earlier that day, “Aim for the ripple, not the splash.”
Fifty years ago, a ripple began with five couples here in Wichita. They met weekly, shared their lives, studied the scriptures regularly and prayed together. They were encouraged to share the gospel and their lives with others and within the next ten years four teams of disciple makers had been formed. Some were transferred to other locations as their jobs changed and began to make an impact in the new locations. Others were added to the growth of the ministry and thousands of lives have been impacted for Christ since that time. The ripple has continued to extend to over thirty cities in Kansas and northeast Oklahoma since that time. Its effect is seen in at least ten different states. It did not begin with a splash. It began with person to person and couple to couple interaction with the addition of small group meetings. Large groups also began to be a part of that ministry as it grew, but the foundations were always centered around personal involvement in prayer and in God’s word. The Lord is still continuing to expand that ripple into regions that are unknown to us.
This ripple, I think, is what Paul had in mind when he told Timothy in II Timothy 2:2 “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.” This is the ripple seen in Acts that extended from Paul to Priscilla and Aquila, and then to Apollos. This was described as being important for our families in Deuteronomy 6:6-7. “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” This ripple was intended to impact generation after generation so that its fulfillment would be realized as seen in Psalm 78:5-6. “He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children.”
Not many of us are going to make that big of a splash, but we can all make a ripple. The Holy Spirit has given each of us the tools by which He creates ripples: our lives, the word of God, and prayer. As we invest in other lives using these tools, ripples will be created that will reach into eternity. May God so work in your life that you aim for the ripple, not the splash.
In Christ, Richard Spann