Equipped for Ministry

While it’s true that the pastors, elders, and apostles in the New Testament made disciples, we can’t overlook the fact that discipleship was everyone’s job. The members of the early church took their responsibility to make disciples very seriously. To them, the church wasn’t a corporation run by a CEO. Rather, they compared the church to a body that functions properly only when every member is doing its part.

Paul saw the church as a community of redeemed people in which each person is actively involved in doing the work of ministry. The pastor is not the minister—at least not in the way we typically think of a minister. The pastor is the equipper, and every member of the church is a minister.

The implications are huge. Don’t think of this as merely a theological issue. See yourself in this passage. Paul said that your job is to do the work of ministry! (Ephesians 4:11-12). Jesus commanded you to make disciples! (Matthew 28:18-20).

Most Christians can give a number of reasons why they cannot or should not disciple other people: “I don’t feel called to minister.” “I just have too much on my plate right now; I don’t have time to invest in other people.” “I don’t know enough.” “I’ll start once I get my life in order.”

As convincing as these excuses may seem to us, Jesus’ commands don’t come with exception clauses. He doesn’t tell us to follow unless we’re busy. He doesn’t call us to love our neighbors unless we don’t feel prepared. In fact, in Luke 9:57-62, you’ll see several individuals who gave excuses for why they couldn’t follow Jesus at the time. Note of how Jesus responded to them. It may surprise you.

God made you the way you are; He has provided and will continue to provide you with everything you need to accomplish the task. Jesus commands you to look at the people around you and start making them into disciples. Obviously, only God can change people’s hearts and make them want to become followers. We just have to be obedient in making the effort to teach them, even though we still have plenty to learn ourselves.

* What excuses tend to keep you from following Jesus’ command to make disciples? What do you need to do in order to move past these excuses?

[ Disciples Making Disciples with Francis Chan, from the YouVersion devotional ]

The Great Commission and the Church

So what comes to your mind when you think about Jesus’ command to make disciples of all nations? Many read these words as if they were meant to inspire pastors or missionaries on their way out to the mission field. But have you ever considered that maybe Jesus’ command is meant for you?

As we read the rest of the New Testament, we see God’s people working together in obedience to Jesus’ command. They reached out to the people around them, calling them to obediently follow Jesus. The disciples went about making disciples, teaching them to obey everything Jesus had commanded and baptizing them. Some of them even moved to different areas or traveled around so that they could tell more people. They took Jesus’ words seriously—and literally.

Reading through the New Testament, it’s not surprising to read that Jesus’s followers were focused on making disciples—it makes sense in light of Jesus’ ministry and the Great Commission. The surprise comes when we look at our churches today in light of Jesus’s command to make disciples.

Why is it that we see so little disciple making taking place in the church today? Do we really believe that Jesus told His early followers to make disciples but wants the twenty-first-century church to do something different? None of us would claim to believe this, but somehow we have created a church culture where the paid ministers do the “ministry,” and the rest of us show up, put some money in the plate, and leave feeling inspired or “fed.” We have moved so far away from Jesus’s command that many Christians don’t have a frame of reference for what disciple making looks like.

* Assess your church experience in light of Jesus’s command to make disciples. Would you say that your church is characterized by disciple making? Why or why not?

[ Disciples Making Disciples with Francis Chan, from the YouVersion devotional ]

Disciples Follow Jesus

What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus Christ? As you will discover, the answer is fairly simple, but it changes your life completely.

The word disciple refers to a student or apprentice. Disciples in Jesus’ day would follow their rabbi (which means teacher) wherever he went, learning from the rabbi’s teaching and being trained to do as the rabbi did. Basically, a disciple is a follower, but only if we take the term “follower” literally. Becoming a disciple of Jesus is as simple as obeying His call to follow.

When Jesus called His first disciples, they may not have understood where Jesus would take them or the impact it would have on their lives, but they knew what it meant to follow. They took Jesus’s call literally and began going everywhere He went and doing everything He did.

It’s impossible to be a disciple or a follower of someone and not end up like that person. Jesus said, “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40). That’s the whole point of being a disciple of Jesus: we imitate Him, carry on His ministry, and become like Him in the process.

Yet somehow many have come to believe that a person can be a “Christian” without being like Christ. A “follower” who doesn’t follow. How does that make any sense? Many people in the church have decided to take on the name of Christ and nothing else. This would be like Jesus walking up to those first disciples and saying, “Hey, would you guys mind identifying yourselves with Me in some way? Don’t worry, I don’t actually care if you do anything I do or change your lifestyle at all. I’m just looking for people who are willing to say they believe in Me and call themselves Christians.” Seriously?

No one can really believe that this is all it means to be a Christian. But then why do so many people live this way? It appears that we’ve lost sight of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. The concept of being a disciple isn’t difficult to understand, but it affects everything.

* Up to this point in your life, would you call yourself a follower of Jesus Christ? Why do you say that?

[ Disciples Making Disciples with Francis Chan, from the YouVersion devotional ]

Leaders Mentor Others

During His ministry, Jesus modeled His life the way He wanted us to live. He taught people at every opportunity in both practical and spiritual ways. He never gave up on His mission—even after His team failed and ran away. He taught His disciples with Scripture and prayer and required them to do the same with the people they met.

These are Biblical examples of leadership, and they are also the elements of mentoring. Mentoring is the most important aspect of excellent leadership—it transforms others, and it transforms you. This post details why a leader should prayerfully help develop others into people who will lead.

“Mentoring Like Jesus” by Regi Campbell

I’m going to give it everything I have to show you what mentoring really is. And more importantly, the approach I’ve stumbled into happens to be the approach Jesus used as he mentored his disciples. Think about what Jesus did.

He was purposeful. It’s all about the Father and Kingdom building. Jesus was on a mission and mentoring was the key strategy to fulfill His mission.

He was selfless. Jesus mentored out of obedience to the Father. He got nothing out of it personally. He simply responded to God’s call on His life and did what the Father led Him to do.

He started in a group context, not one on one. Jesus knew the value of interaction of group members with each other. The group became a community, inextricable from each other.

Jesus also accepted and even promoted the “group within the group” which invariably develops. He had favorites, and He didn’t hide it or apologize for it. Yes, there was powerful one-on-one interaction. But it started in the context of the group.

Jesus hand-picked His mentees after prayer. The group was made up of lay people, not “church people”… diverse… anything but a holy huddle.

Jesus mentored for a short, intensive period of time. Jesus’ mentoring program began and ended. It was not a lifetime engagement. There was a clear graduation day when His mentees were commissioned and launched.

Scripture was at the core. Jesus and His mentees knew the Scriptures by heart. The Word guided their decision making. Jesus helped His guys understand and apply God’s word.

Prayer was huge; public and private. Jesus modeled a prayerful life; He taught the disciples how to pray, prayed with them and for them.

Jesus modeled his faith in a transparent way. Jesus lived out His life in front of His mentees. They became like family to Him. They saw how He applied His faith, how He struggled, how He handled stress, and how He handled dying.

Jesus taught along the way of life. He was practical, yet spiritual. Jesus helped His guys with practical situations….everything from taxes to work place issues; from goal setting to family relations. He was far more practical than hypothetical. They discussed the Law for sure, but Jesus taught from His knowledge and experience.

There was a mutual commitment. Jesus never gave up on them, even when they failed and ran away. Ultimately, they never gave up on Jesus, giving their lives, not for His memory or His teachings, but for His Kingdom.

Jesus required multiplication. His was a “pay it forward” model that changed the world. It produced evangelists and disciple makers. Multiplication was a part of what everyone signed up for from the beginning. No one was excluded from the task of investing in others as Jesus had invested in them.

These are the elements of mentoring… mentoring like Jesus did it… radical mentoring!

If you do what Jesus did, you’ll replace your occasional, sporadic, but well-intentioned efforts with a confident, intentional, and fruitful approach that will transform lives. In fact, it just might transform yours in the process.

Jesus, You mentored the disciples so they could lead the early church. Show me who to mentor and how to help them be a leader who glorifies You.

Who am I choosing to mentor and why?

Be intentional about who you mentor because you are cultivating their skills and affecting their future.

Your leadership skills affect not only you, but also your team and the outcomes of your projects. While a good leader may make leadership look easy, you can probably see that it takes deliberate action to effectively lead and develop the people on your teams. Jesus is the best example of a leader who is compassionate and selfless while being strong and tough. He communicated well, met the needs of the people around Him, and challenged His followers to be better people. If you prayerfully model Jesus’ leadership—the leadership that created the Christian church in just three years of ministry—you will be able to build growing teams that respect you, work hard for you, and can influence the world for Jesus.

The content for this post was adapted from: “Mentoring Like Jesus” by Regi Campbell

[ Content is from a YouVersion devotional on leadership ]