..we are to make disciples that make disciples ad infinitum
The older I get, the more I have begun to reflect on life. The theme I set for my 2018 is to simplify and perfect. As I was thinking about what I wanted this year to be about it became clear that I had to refine my life goals and mission. As a follower of Jesus, it is clear what our mission is: we are to make disciples that make disciples ad infinitum; this never stops. But my own personal mission and goals in the context of His mission had become convoluted.
I want to be as effective as I can with the little time I have—trim off the excess spiritual fat. I am a husband, father, youth director, and worship leader. I want to invest most of my time in those key areas of life. I want to refine my roles down to their most basic form and understand exactly what God expects from me in each, as well as figuring out how to be the most effective in making disciples through these roles.
..we train up leaders to step up in areas of need
As a young and zealous believer, I got lost in the sea of opportunity and didn't excel in any single area of ministry. I was involved in too many things. Understand that it is important to be involved; I'm not giving you a get-out-of-ministry-free card. But you will be much more effective in your ministry if you are all-in for a single area. Again, there are always exceptions to this rule. God can and will use us in a variety of ways if we allow Him the opportunity. But we can also get so bogged down with “ministry” that we aren’t actually ministering.
When I am a part of every single ministry opportunity our church has to offer, I start to flame out. Let me give you an example. As I mentioned, I have many roles in life. I am a son, a brother, a husband, a father, and an employee. These are basic roles we all have in life. The tough part comes when you throw in the extra roles and responsibilities. Youth director, church member, finance committee member, church treasurer, worship leader, disciple maker... Not to mention the passion I have for songwriting. You can see I have quite a few roles to fill. This is enough to keep me busy a lifetime over.
The problem is that I want to jump at every new ministry opportunity out of enthusiasm. I did not see this when I was a younger. I wanted so desperately to be involved that, as I got older, I became overextended without even noticing it. But I want to be laser-focused on making disciples that make disciples. I want to get the most return on my time investment. Sometimes we have to say no to that awesome opportunity so that someone else can step up. This is the whole point of discipleship: we train up leaders to step up in areas of need. If I am overextended, it probably means I’m not making true biblical disciples.
We must follow in His footsteps and fully invest in the key areas of ministry God has given us.
To accurately convey what I am trying to get across, we need to look at Jesus. He came to this earth, not only to die for our sin, but also to show us how to live. We need to look at the example he set for us and mirror it. Jesus only had twelve disciples. Have you ever thought about how bizarre this is? He is God; He could have made disciples out of the entire planet. Yet he instead chose to reproduce Himself in the lives of twelve men.
Jesus understood that, through the investment He made in these men, we would be here today doing the exact same thing. Think about it: because of those twelve men, we have a personal relationship with Jesus. Could you imagine someone telling Jesus that He wasn't doing enough for the Kingdom because He was only focusing on twelve dudes? Yet every Christian on the planet today is a byproduct of Jesus’ disciples! Crazy! We must follow in His footsteps and fully invest in the key areas of ministry God has given us.
But this is only half of the picture with Christ. He never turned down an opportunity to make an impact. Look at the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000. He was always looking for opportunities to make an impact. If you read this story, along with many others throughout the gospels, you will ultimately find Jesus back with the disciples. This is where He chose to spend the bulk of His time in ministry. These instances are teaching opportunities for the disciples.
I am now able to put everything I’ve got into the key areas the Lord has given me to shepherd.
So you see, getting plugged into ministry opportunities is a tightrope upon which we must learn to balance. On the one hand, we need to make disciples whatever the cost. On the other, we should be strategic in how we accomplish this task. You have to find the proper balance in how you spend your time. The last thing I want is to be guilty of being a poor husband and father because I am so busy pouring into teenagers. At the same time, I don’t want to be a lousy youth director by using my family as an excuse to not invest in teens.
We didn't have kids of our own when I first started working with youth, so it was easy to have them over 24/7. We practically raised a few of our first students. However, things changed drastically when we had our first, and even more so with our second child. This is why it is essential that I am making disciples. Now that I am unable to dedicate all my time to teens, I am making a disciple who will be able to fill the void that I once filled. Today, several of the students that I discipled are now investing in the teens. Again, this doesn’t mean that I no longer invest in teens. But it does give me the ability to fully invest in more aspects of life and ministry. This recent realization has been so freeing and beneficial to my spiritual and personal life. I am now able to put everything I’ve got into the key areas the Lord has given me to shepherd.