The Three Distinctive Roles of the Discipleship Process
Recently I sent out an email to my readers asking them to share their number one problem when it comes to making disciples. I received many, many emails. A number of different themes came up as I read through them. One thing that particularly stood out to me was the number of people who felt personally responsible for the people they were discipling either losing interest or turning away from God.
It is important that we recognize and own ‘our part’ in the discipleship process. But it is equally important to recognize that we alone don’t carry the full responsibility for it.
The truth is there are three roles in the discipleship process. There is our role, their (the disciples) role, and God’s role. The key truth is that we can only take responsibility for our own part.
Now I am certainly not saying that we can’t grow and get better at what we do. We can. But there are a number of possible reasons for why a person might not respond positively to the gospel message, or to our encouragement or direction. For instance – in the case of witnessing to a lost person, perhaps we were trying to force something on the person that God was not in on. I’m not saying that God wants anyone to be lost – he doesn’t. But He does know each person’s heart. We may be only one in a series of steps they will go through before they surrender to God. Or it could be that God IS working in their heart, but they are the one holding back refusing to respond.
Jim Putman, author of this blog, is writing a new book called The Death of Discipleship about the dynamics of pride and humility in the discipleship process. Download the free primer for this book here.
We even have an example in the Bible of this happening to Jesus. In Matthew 19:16-22, a rich young man came and asked Jesus what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus, knowing the young mans heart, responded to him with truth and love, putting his finger right on the problem. The young man didn’t respond to the offer to become a disciple of Jesus. He chose to keep what he knew and was comfortable with rather than follow Jesus. Had Jesus failed because the man didn’t follow Him? Had he done His part perfectly? I trust you know that answer to those questions.
God is not dependent on our perfection to win someone He is working on. He is also not dependent on us to disciple someone perfectly. Here is where we go wrong. We forget that the people we disciple are not our disciples; they are Jesus’. He will never stop working on them.
So don’t let Satan tell you that you are not good enough, smart enough, or spiritual enough to disciple someone. We can’t do the other persons part and we certainly can’t do God’s part. We can only do our part. And God has and will equip us for the work He has called us to do.
Written by Jim Putman
This was originally posted on Jim Putman’s blog here. Used with permission.