“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’”
Few can argue with the fact that we are called to pour ourselves into others. Even so, it’s understandably difficult to get over the human thinking that 1) we am capable, 2) we are competent, 3) we have anything to offer and that 4) we could even identify people who would want to learn from us.
There is good news!
1) God is the capable One. You just need to be available.
2) Competency doesn’t mean perfection. You aren’t called to be a perfect example, just a living one. Again, Jesus is the ONLY perfect disciple maker. ALL of the rest of us are, at best, just guessing as to how we best follow in His footsteps.
3) If you love Jesus and desire to seek His will, you absolutely have something to offer!
And the last bit of news is what this post is about.
4) How do you go about identifying and inviting someone into a discipling relationship?
Jesus chose twelve individuals in whom He would invest and then entrust with the spreading of the greatest news on heaven and earth. And though He didn’t give us his specific guidelines or selection criteria, I have noticed a couple things that I let guide me as I decide in whom to invest.
“One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them…”
Jesus “spent the night praying to God,” Luke tells us. He’s been tempted in the wilderness. He’s been baptized. He’s been healing. He’s been preaching the good news and casting out evil spirits. He already has many disciples following him. But none of this has kept Him from retreating to a “quiet place” regularly. We see here that just before choosing the twelve, he spent hours in prayer.
Before making any decision or offer to invest in others, I pray for several weeks that God would bring names to mind and that I might cross paths with those whom He might want me to invest. I then look for opportunities to have meaningful conversations with these people. I enter my day to day life with open eyes and ears. This has proven to be the most effective way of finding those who are receptive to investment from me. How often are you praying that God would raise your awareness to the people in whom He is preparing for you to invest? That is a great place to start.
Secondly, Jesus ministry and mission was in motion before He ever called anyone to join him. He didn’t wait until just the right people showed up to step into God’s purposes. He was preaching, healing and praying for others and many began following him. The bible calls them “disciples.” There are people following you right now, watching you, learning from you, whether you realize it or not. Some are close. Some are watching and learning from a distance. Some you know well. Others may be colleagues, classmates, or acquaintances. Some of them might even desire intentional investment from you. All that’s missing is the invitation. Look for persons of peace – those who welcome you, listen to you, and serve you – as you pray about inviting others into your life for intentional investment.
Lastly, while most of Jesus’ teaching and training happened as He was going about His Father’s business, asking the disciples to imitate Him, He still made time to pull the twelve away for “small group” time. Truth is that our experience is most likely the opposite. We can make room for a regular gathering for bible study or accountability, but find it harder to invite those outside our immediate family into life’s daily routines. But it is vitally important to imagine how you could engage with those you invite into a discipling relationship into some element of shared life. Much of what others will learn from you will be through your thoughts, words, and actions going about the ministry of life – more than you will even recognize.
While this is not a prescription, it has been a guide that I use when deciding how, and in whom, I will invest myself.
By way of example HERE is an email I typically send out, early on, to those in whom I feel God might be asking me to reach out. (Again, this is after much prayer.)