Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there) (John 6:10).

7. To pray: Oh, how as leaders we forget the critical aspect of prayer. Not just before a meal but in all ways and at all times. As a singles ministry consultant, I often conduct leadership training at churches. The one big area most ministries lack in is consistent prayer. Are you praying as a leader? Is your team praying weekly? Are you praying for the direction of your ministry? For communication/relationship with your church? For doors to open? To reach the lost world? Are you thanking God for the things that ARE working in your ministry? Are you sharing this good news with your pastor and church leaders? Are you leading by example?  If not, then how will you ever know the direction God wants to take you? How can you evaluate your ministry? How can you even know if God wants you to have a ministry?

Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish (John 6:11). 

8. To use the resources God gives you: I prayed about this verse and what it meant. Why would Jesus have the disciples gather up the rest of the bread and fish? Why wouldn't he just let the crowds keep it for later? 1) The disciples had to go back into the crowd where they got to see, hear and minister to the crowd again. Jesus sent them back to enforce what true ministry is (fluid); 2) Going back into the crowd also allowed them to see if in fact everyone got enough, if their needs were met. etc. It allowed them to evaluate the ministry; 3) Gathering the leftovers allowed to the disciples to glean. Gleaning is as old as the Bible. There is so much waste in the world today. Even in our ministriesfrom leftover food at events to singles who do nothing for the Lord to improper use of our time and resources. Gleaning also allowed the disciples and the crowd to see just how powerful God is. It's not a matter of what God provides, it’s a matter of how we use what he provides. Gleaning also showed us the importance Jesus emphasizes not to waste.

When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted” (John 6:12).

9. To love others first as he has loved us: Here Jesus gives us the perfect example of making sure the crowd was taken care of before his team/disciples. Now don't misunderstand. As leaders we do need to make sure we are healthy in all ways in order to minister to others. Jesus is simply giving us a model of what we need to do when we are out leading our ministries. For example, do you come in early and stay late to help? Do you get your plate of food later so that each of your guests is fed first? Do you take the worst parking spot to allow others to have the best? Do you take care of the needs of others before yourself? As a leader do others see a model of humility and submission to God? Do others see your willingness to come alongside them in their lives? Do others know you would do whatever you can to help them?  What I also love about this verse is there were 12 baskets left over ... one for each of the disciples. But notice, too, that Jesus had none based on this scripturea prophetic window into his ultimate sacrifice on the cross.

So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten (John 6:13).

So, I answered the call to lead this huge singles retreat. I decided I needed a lot of prayer. As I read the scripture in John 6, I realized I needed a huge team to help with the task. I started to pray and asked God to bring together a team of folks with some of my gifts and some with other gifts. One particular person was a man named Steve, who I felt truly walked with God. I would learn early on that successful singles ministry works best when led by a woman and a man (married or friends). Steve's personality was the total opposite of mine. He was a caregiver, and I was an administrator. Together, with God's leading, we built an awesome team that would not only put on a wonderful retreat that even after 20 years people are still talking about, but built relationships as well. We learned that our retreat was not about the retreat but about all the things that happened priorthe prayer and planning meetings, lunches and dinners, going to the store, dealing with vendors, etc. I faced obstacles of people and room issues, equipment not working, misunderstandings, etc., and even the enemy did his part. But ultimately God got the glory. The retreat was called "Unity." And it did just that, brought us together in him to be used by him for his purpose.