If you are a Christian, you know Matthew 28:19. We call it the Great Commission. It says,
“Go therefore into all the nations and make converts, telling them the Gospel briefly and then leaving.”
That’s not what it says. It says make disciples. It says teach them to obey. To the chagrin of Missions walls in church foyers everywhere, I submit to you that going on a short term mission trip is not you fulfilling the Great Commission. But often we interpret the Great Commission as a call to evangelism, and think, “well, if I do evangelize, and they do accept Jesus, then they are a disciple of Jesus so I’ve done my job right?”
Nope. The Great Commission isn’t calling you to tell people about Jesus. It is calling you to make disciples. Don’t get me wrong, evangelism and missions are both biblical commands of the utmost importance in our lives. As followers of Jesus, we do a great job of the obeying the Great Commandment – loving God and loving people. But we tend to miss the call of the Great Commission. God is telling you to make disciples – of you. As a disciple of Jesus, I don’t have to go out and make perfect little Jesus disciples. I get to start with making Emily disciples. And through that, they will also become Jesus disciples. I am to impart to them MY life, and the life of God and Spirit of God that is in me will be imparted to them.
My husband says it like this. Being a disciple-maker means coming up to someone and saying, “I want to come and be a servant of your life, a force of good in your life, and to help you do everything you dream about doing and become everything Jesus created you to be.”
Who would say no to that? But it takes time, love and perseverance on your part. And be encouraged, not everyone in your life will be your disciple. You will evangelize to people who are not your disciples, pray for people who are not your disciples, and even be in relationships with people who are not your disciples. Jesus ministered to a lot more than twelve people. But he just discipled them. Here are a few things to note about Jesus’ model of discipleship:
- He lived real life with them. He let them see his true character in the ins and outs of his life, not just who he was in ministry.
- He taught them in every day situations. He found teaching moments as he walked by a tree, or overlooked a city, or figuring out what to eat for lunch. Every moment was an opportunity to show a Kingdom principle.
- He invited them into movement. They were to follow him in this movement of the Kingdom of Heaven smashing into the kingdom of earth and all the scary, crazy, amazing, wonderful things that came with that.
- He saw Fishers of Men in fishermen. He saw beyond their brokenness into their heavenly identity and treated them as such.
Right about now, you may be thinking that discipleship is just impossible to do with young kids at home, or a full time job, or both. Here are a few practical ways I have found that discipling not only fits into my life as a mom, but actually continues to bless me.
Disciple your babysitter. She might know Jesus, and she might not. But the chances are that she doesn’t have anyone discipling her. When you and Mr. get home from your date, bring her home some ice cream and talk to her for 20 minutes on the couch before you take her home. She might not even know you are discipling her at first, but as she sees that you want to be a force for good in her life, and that you believe in her, she will start wanting to spend more time with you, calling you, coming to you with problems. Young people want discipleship, surprisingly.
Disciple a young girl from your church. I guarantee that if you go to the youth pastor at your church and say, “Hey, I have time to disciple one girl, who do you think is a good fit for me?”, they will have someone in mind. Take her grocery shopping, run errands with her. She can help with the kids and laugh when you try on something that looks horrible, and also be learning Kingdom principles by the way you mother your kids.
Disciple a friend who doesn’t know Jesus as well as you. Peer to peer mentorship is the most intimidating, because we feel like we have nothing to offer. But you do. All discipleship really means is to teach. When you are at coffee, just tell her what God has been saying to you in devotions. Tell her what the Spirit is doing in your marriage. Tell her how God has been influencing your parenting.
Discipleship takes work. It takes sacrifice. But it is THE last command Jesus gave to his disciples; THE most important thing he wanted them to do. It is, frankly, not an option in your walk with Jesus. If you aren’t discipling, you won’t grow. But it’s not about feeling bad for not doing something. It’s about YOU also stepping into everything God created you to do and to be. And when we are living in what God has called us to do and be, we are, in the end, the most blessed because we are living in our fulfillment.
We find our fulfillment as we come along someone and help them into their fulfillment.
Go therefore, and make disciples.