Recently I was reminded of the saying, "Knowledge is power." As a ministry leader going on eight years, I've understood this principle. Continuous training is apart of the job. Be it spiritual, nonprofit, or outdoors related. You can't learn enough. Every year presents new challenges that will push you. You have options. Let the problem overcome you, step aside to avoid the problem, or take it head on and learn as much as you can. I always tried to take the issue head-on and learn as much as I could.
Another saying goes well inside this saying. If knowledge is power, then expect to fail as we learn. Failure is where the next saying fits in, "Failure is the best place to begin teaching." If we fail, and you will then learn from your failure. Don't let it overcome you. Don't step aside to avoid it.
I see too many people avoid something either before it begins or after they first failed. Had I given up after the first time I failed or after the first time someone knocked me down or cast me aside I would have never reached day one of ministry leadership.
So, where am I going with this? I have a reason. The reason is one that I feel a lot of Christians avoid. I admit. This thing they avoid... I avoided it too.
Discipling - helping others to follow Christ by doing deliberate spiritual good in their lives.
Some may know it better as reading with, or accountability partner, or prayer partner. Whatever you call it or associate it by this is a mandate set forth to all Christians.
Following Christ is not an A La Carte pick and choose kind of religion. Christ calls ALL of us to the same commissions:
The Great Commission
16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Wait a second! Back up! Eleven? I thought it was twelve? Correct.
There were twelve. By the time Christ had risen from the tomb, Judas had hung himself. He could not bear the guilt of betraying Jesus and handing him over to the Roman guards (Matthew 27).
Back to Jesus' charge. Matthew 28:19-20 - Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
In my earlier years, I took this passage as Jesus talking only to the eleven or as I would say, "that's only for pastors and elders." But I want us to focus on the first half of verse 19 and all of verse 20 - Go therefore and make disciples of all nations... teaching them to observe ALL (emphasis added) that I have commanded you.
Side Note: The first half of verse 19 is significant in that at this very moment Jesus was transferring all authority given to him by God.
Let's stop right here. In my earlier years, I was correct to an extent. Jesus did command pastors and elders to Go and make disciples of all nations. I choose not to understand all nations. To me, that meant other countries, not me. I believed in Christ and therefore that I needed to do.
I want to present another verse to go along with the first half of verse 19:
Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
Jesus is answering a question presented by Judas. I want us to focus on the first part of verse 23. "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word..."
Here is where my earlier years and most Christians misunderstand what Jesus is calling us to in verses 19 and 20 of Matthew 28. If we love God, then we will keep his word. How do we keep His word? Through discipleship, i.e., to be taught His word or instructed by someone in the ways of living a life for Christ and then doing the same for the next person (Matthew 28:20).
Ok, this is where you're going to fire back at me with objections. I recently read a book called Discipling - How To Help Others Follow Christ by Mark Dever and in Chapter 4 he addresses these very objections. I want to share these with you, not to disprove anyone but to help you see the importance of why all of us (men, women, teens, and kids) should be discipled and disciple others.
Objection 1: "This discipler is not ideal."
Answer: Neither are you. God's the only perfect one in this equation. He gets the glory by using imperfect vessels like me and like you. The more humble you are, the more you'll find you have to learn from any other true disciple.
Objection 2: "If a person is always listening to her discipler, she might no longer submit to other good authorities like parents, husband, or church."
Answer. Done well, good discipling will encourage appropriate submission to any authorities established by God.
Objection 3: "The whole things seems self-centered and prideful."
Answer: I understand how it could seem like that. But Christian discipling calls us to follow someone only insofar as he or she follows Christ. It doesn't call us to follow another's style, or cultural preferences, or worldly wisdom, or personal habits. Insofar as the practice of discipling calls us to model and imitate Christ for one another, it's really very humbling. Beyond all this, it's simply biblical.
Objection 4: "Isn't it just pushy, and aren't you imposing yourself on someone else."
Answer: Christian discipling works through a mutually agreed upon relationship.
Objection 5: "I don't need it. I mean, surely the most important things about Christian life are self-evident! So, I'm too busy for this to be a priority."
Answer: This sounds like the "Lone Ranger" syndrome. Jesus died not for separate individuals, but for a church (body of believers). By adopting you, God brought you into a family, so that now you have brothers and sisters. What's more, he says we demonstrate our family membership and love for him through our love for one another. We do that through our submission to and fellowship with a local church. Christianity is personal, yes, always! - but not private. You need to be involved in the lives of others, and you need them in yours. God is the only one who doesn't need to be taught!
Objection 6: "This is just for extroverts."
Answer: No, this is for Christians. The number of these relationships you might have will vary according to personality, life circumstances, and so forth. But having none of them is not an option for a faith centered on love and forgiveness. Speak to other mature Christians to help you sort through this in your own life.
Objection 7: "I can't disciple. I'm imperfect, erring, and too young!"
Answer: If you are truly following Christ, all you need to do is share what you do know, not what you don't know. For many people around you, that will mean sharing the gospel! With fellow church members, this may mean initiating spiritual conversations by asking questions, sharing what you're learning, and praying for them. Anyone truly following Christ can disciple.
If you've made it all the way to this point, great! I'm glad and hope that God has revealed/challenged your heart today! But before we go I want to share a passage from this same book. It's the conclusion of Chapter 4:
"We are Christians because someone did that (discipleship) for us, and someone did it for them, all the way back to the earliest disciples (Matthew 28:16-20)... Under sovereignty of God, the future generation of disciples depends on us following the example of these first disciples. Discipling is part of our own discipleship to Christ."
If you have questions, concerns, or what to talk more about this please contact us today! Our Biblical Foundation material will walk you through this and prepare you to begin discipling others in your local church.
Live for His glory... Succeed for His kingdom!