When you invest in people, you should also prepare yourself for disappointment. Inevitably, someone you’ve prayed for will stop short of surrendering to Jesus. Someone you’ve worked alongside will abandon you. That doesn’t mean you should become pessimistic, however. It only means that you should have realistic expectations about what might happen when you’re discipling real people.
In the Apostle Paul’s last known letter, he highlighted the names of some people who brought him joy and others who brought him pain. He said, “For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry. Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments. Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds” 2 Timothy 4.10-14 ESV.
As Paul brought his final letter to a close, he wasn’t thinking about his personal legacy or accomplishments. He was thinking about the people he had discipled. Two of those people had greatly disappointed him. Demas had abandoned Paul when Paul needed him most. Alexander didn’t just leave; he was actively working to undermine Paul’s efforts.
How should you deal with disappointments that come with making disciples? Here are a few ideas:
1. Give your disappointments to God.
1 Peter 5.7 NLT says, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” You can be confident that He understands what you’re going through. He’s been there before, and He will help you get through it. Ask Jesus to exchange your disappointment for His peace.
2. Focus on the faithful.
In his letter, Paul also mentions faithful people who were continuing his work and actively following Jesus. Crescens, Titus, Luke, and Tychicus brought Paul great joy. Instead of focusing on the people who disappoint you, focus on those who are faithful and praise Jesus for them.
3. Celebrate new growth.
It’s interesting that Mark’s name is listed in Paul’s letter because Mark had disappointed Paul years earlier. During his first missionary journey, Mark abandoned Paul and returned to Jerusalem (Acts 13.13 ESV). Now, Mark had grown. He had learned from his failures and had become a vital part of the mission. The same thing can happen to anyone in your group.
4. Don’t give up.
Through the ups and downs of making disciples, Paul didn’t give up. He didn’t let his disappointments get the best of him. In 2 Timothy 4.7 NLT, he writes, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.” Paul didn’t let disappointment stop him from making disciples and neither should you.
It stings when the people you’re discipling don’t catch on. It hurts when people with growing faith start to fade away. When those things happen, you can start to feel disappointed and alone. But remember that Jesus has walked this road before you. One of His twelve disciples completely betrayed Him. In His time of greatest need, Peter denied even knowing Him. Disappointment is part of investing in others.
This post originally appeared at: https://disciplefirst.com/ways-to-deal-with-disappointments-that-come-with-making-disciples/?v=7516fd43adaa
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