“As you go make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” Matthew 28:19-20
We know the great commission well but we don’t know discipleship. It struck me this week in a class setting when a few people showed disdain for material that was presenting face-to-face application of the gospel in the lives of friends. For them it was too prescriptive. And being generous I can see the point. But more so I think we wrestle with something like a script for telling people about Jesus over a meal because we never do it. We don’t know discipleship.
We think what Jesus means in his commission is to raise money so someone can go to far off lands or invite people to programs at the church so they can be discipled. Yet my experience is that very few people in the church actually disciple anyone. So at least anecodotaly we have missed the point.
Look at Jesus’ example first for a picture of discipleship. Giving others access to his life and teaching them along the way. To be a disciple of Jesus was to watch his life and ministry then talk about it. Eventually disciples would be sent to do the same things always coming back to Jesus to nurture the relationship.
In line with the parable of the talents, which is certainly about money but also so much more than that, we are not investing our time in multiplying the people around us we are called to steward when Jesus says “make disciples.” And friend you must know, your twitter followers are not disciples. Face-to-face, life-on-life discipleship is what we were meant for.
This is among the key transformations that must happen in the church if we are to experience revival in our day and on the local, my church, level it a key goal for the year in my mind. Beginning with the elders and other leaders in the church, honestly assessing if we are discipling people and prayerfully expecting that example to stir others to the same.
When the grace of Jesus wrecks you and frees you to life, we can’t help but share it and walk out this truth with others.
Shall we be about it?
As I have discipled or mentored people in varying seasons of life one helpful conclusion for everyone has been that someone has gone through the same things before them. Once you recognize there are others with insight to give, you are likely to heed it.
Increasingly I have noticed a trend of disillusionment toward the experience of others. Those I try to encourage exude an attitude that says their story or circumstance is unique and no one would have any clue what they are going through.
I get the temptation toward that feeling. Just on the base level of our selfish sinfulness or course we would lean toward narcissism as if we are all that matter, or have ever mattered. And this is why community is so vital as we pursue life, and especially pursue Jesus.
When we awaken to the reality that others have faced similar or the same situations, we enter into a gracious space of being understood. This is where bearing with one another happens. This is where growth happens.
So please, don’t think you can or should go it alone because your situation is a one-of-a-kind. Someone has been there before, and they are probably closer than you think.
Justin Taylor has highlighted an interview with Michael Lindsey about his new book View from the Top. It is a look at how the powerful see the world and insightful in the conversation is how people become leaders. Asked if there was one defining characteristic or shared trait in the stories of how leaders got to where they are, Lindsey summed up his findings with this:
“So a lot of your major demographic characteristics do not matter on your likelihood to succeed. What does matter is the formative influence of an adult who speaks into your life and who has a sustaining relationship with you that you carry with you. Each of us could identify one, two, or three people outside of our family who had a formative influence, and my hunch is that the relationship you had was not for months, or for semesters, but for years. That’s what Christian Institutions can create and that’s one of the things that we found that was really special.”
You can be born anywhere, have nearly any experience, and if an adult pours into you, mentors you, you can become a leader. This is the proof of mentoring with research to back it up. You can read the rest of the interview here.
The implications of this reality for the church is an obligation to make the legacy of the church, and the older members of our church, our ability to influence and care for the next generation. Who are we inviting to the conversation. Who are we choosing to spend time with to build up and encourage.
This doesn’t mean you have to mentor everyone. And sometimes those you choose to mentor are not a right match for you. But we keep on, giving our experience and encouragement to a new generation of leaders. I too can name the few non-family members that providing the greatest encouragement and opportunity and now I recognize the importance of these discipleship relationships within the church. Let’s be about it.
In an article on productivity on Inc. Drake Baer shares nine tricks that influential execs use to improve the effectiveness of their meetings. It is a good list, mostly.
What stood out to me was this about Evernote’s chief:
“Evernote CEO Phil Libin always brings a high-potential employee to participate.”
At any given meeting at Evernote, there will be someone there who doesn’t belong.
This is by design. The cloud note-taking startup has an internal program called “officer training,” where employees get assigned to meetings that aren’t in their specialty area in order to explore other parts of the company.
“They’re there to absorb what we’re talking about,” Libin says. “They’re not just spectators. They ask questions; they talk.”
Libin got the idea from talking with a friend who served on a nuclear submarine. In order to be an officer of such a sub, you had to know how to do everybody else’s job.
“Those skills are repeatedly trained and taught,” he says. “And I remember thinking, ‘That’s really cool.'”
It is a discipleship mentality that I think we are missing at many of our churches (and other organizations as well). The mentoring, or at least exposure, of others to train them up. And it is not just watching, these officers in training are interacting and participating. Does this happen on your elder board, your staff team?
Not a bad idea. Bring someone with you that doesn’t belong…