by Craig Etheredge
When I talk to leaders about personally investing in people, I often get a bit of pushback. For some reason, there is a resistance when it comes to personal investment in people. When I first became a pastor, I didn’t know much about how to invest in a man’s life. Most of my training had been in the Seminary classroom and in the management of programs in a large suburban church. But there were three businessmen who caught my attention.
They were all three very successful in their careers. One owned his own construction business, another was a macular facial surgeon, and the third managed and sold real estate. All of these men were extremely busy, juggling high commitments and loaded schedules, but all three were committed to discipling men.
I saw them get up early in the morning to meet with a man before breakfast. I saw them stay up late at night to disciple a group of men. I saw them go to a man’s office and disciple him there. They all used different tools and methods, but they were committed to personal investment.
That was something I had never seen from any pastor I had served under. I had never even experienced it as a church member before God called me into vocational ministry, but I was seeing it now lived out in three businessmen. One of these men would often challenge me, “Ask God to give you a man, and then invest in him until he’s ready to do the same with another man.”
It seemed so simple; how could I have missed it?
The Apostle Paul put it this way: “And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2). In this one verse, Paul refers to four generations of disciples: Paul, Timothy, faithful men, and others. Any time a man can invest his life in a man who will, in turn, do the same to the fourth generation, God will use him to ignite a movement. That’s God’s plan for every one of us – to be movement catalysts who make disciples and produce disciple-makers.
But why are so many pastors reluctant to make the personal investment? Over the next few weeks, we’re going to talk about the most common excuses pastors make when it comes to discipleship, one by one.
“I don’t have time.”
This is by far the most common excuse. “You don’t understand my crazy schedule. I’ve got sermons to prepare, meetings to attend, counseling to do, hospital visits to make, staff to manage, visitors to follow up, problems to solve, budgets to review…I just can’t add one more thing to my pile.”
I get it. Pastors are busy. I am one. I know what it is like to work from before sunrise to after sunset and still not get everything done. I know what it is like to have the deadline of Sunday breathing down your neck and the people expecting your sermon to be fresh, creative, and wonderful. I know that there are lots of people who need help and lots of hurting people who need your attention. I get it.
But one of the perks of being a pastor is you determine your schedule.
You decide what’s top priority. When I first started transitioning a church to become a disciple-making church, I had to come to the realization that most of what I was doing was good, but not much of it was moving the church forward. I was managing programs, launching initiatives, overseeing budgets and staff, but I wasn’t investing my life in anyone and I was losing the joy of serving. I determined that if personal investment was Jesus’ top priority, it should be mine, too.
I began to shift my schedule and create space for me to start investing in men. Listen, everyone is busy. Most of the men you will disciple are busy, too. If you expect them to carve out time away from their careers and family to invest in men then you need to lead the way by showing how it can be done, even in a busy schedule.
Busyness isn’t a reason to not make disciples, it’s an excuse. And a poor one at that. I can just imagine you standing before Jesus one day, at the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10) where your life and ministry will be evaluated, saying, “Jesus, I would have done what you said, but I was so busy.” Something tells me Jesus isn’t going to be satisfied with that answer. If he’s not going to be satisfied with it then, he’s not satisfied with it now.
Have you ever used this excuse when God is calling you to disciple someone individually?
Join us next week as we break down another common excuse that hinders discipleship.
This was an excerpt from our book, “Bold Moves.”