Developing a Disciple-Maker’s Heart

bible.gifWe’ve previously talked about our calling as followers of Jesus being rooted in the ideas brought to light Matthew 28:19-20, “18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Jesus’ claim of all authority is an unequivocal assertion that He alone is King. King Jesus has charged His followers with the assignment of making disciples of all nations. This is not so much a mandate for missionary service as it is a charge to help people of all ethnic groups learn what it means to be followers of Jesus. This not so much a call to target certain people with the gospel as it is a statement of Jesus’ desire for the purposeful inclusion of all people in the kingdom of Christ.

In my estimation, the most important thing for those who want to be part of what Jesus is doing through His kingdom presence in the world is to develop a disciple-maker’s heart. What better place to turn to learn about such zeal than to the Apostle Paul, whose life epitomizes the what every disciple-making follower of Jesus should aspire to be? In 1 Timothy 1:12-17, we are given a personal tour of Paul’s heart. We learn what is was that caused the evangelistic fires to roar deep within his soul. In The Message, Peterson translates these verses as follows:

12-14 I’m so grateful to Christ Jesus for making me adequate to do this work. He went out on a limb, you know, in trusting me with this ministry. The only credentials I brought to it were invective and witch hunts and arrogance. But I was treated mercifully because I didn’t know what I was doing—didn’t know Who I was doing it against! Grace mixed with faith and love poured over me and into me. And all because of Jesus.

15-17 Here’s a word you can take to heart and depend on: Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. I’m proof—Public Sinner Number One—of someone who could never have made it apart from sheer mercy. And now he shows me off—evidence of his endless patience—to those who are right on the edge of trusting him forever.

What does Paul’s life teach us about developing a disciple-maker’s heart?

First, he “saw” what the Lord can do… His former folly is summarized in verse 13: “I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man.” But, something happened. Paul saw the light! He learned that his life was being lived against God, instead of for Him. In mercy, however, God spared him; and by His grace He saved him. If ever a man needed unmerited favor it was Paul, right? Praise God! Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners! God gave Paul what he needed; not what he deserved!

Second, Paul “saw” himself in the proper light… This was not morbid musing over past failures. It was realistic reflection, which produced genuine appreciation for all that God had done for him. Though he was saved from sin, he did not begin to think of himself as somehow superior to those still lost in sin. He knew—always knew and never forgot—it was God’s grace that made him what he was! In another passage he said: “By the grace of God, I am what I am…” (1 Corinthians 15:10)

Third, Paul “saw” the potential for others… Can you visualize this? The “worst” sinner is God’s chosen vessel to Gentiles. The former blasphemer and persecutor, who violently opposed Christ, is appointed to service by Christ. This is no fluke, either! God did it on purpose to show his unlimited patience. What He is willing to do for the worst sinner, God is willing to do for all sinners! Thus, no one should be written off or arbitrarily excluded. No matter what package it is wrapped in, sin is sin! Sinners outside of Christ, one and all, are all in the same condition. Lost! And, Christ Jesus came into the world to save who? Lost sinners! Because Paul saw through the sin and saw the potential of salvation in Christ Jesus, he enthusiastically became all things to all men that he might be all means possible save some!

May we all strive to develop a heart for the Lord and making disciples like that of the Apostle Paul’s.

© Bill Williams

August 23, 2006

About a fellow sojourner

a sojourner in life, trying to follow in the steps of Jesus.
This entry was posted in Bible Study, Blogroll, Christian Living, Christian Missions, Christianity, Discipleship Training, Evangelism, Kingdom Living, Life, Missional Church, Missional Living. Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Developing a Disciple-Maker’s Heart

  1. Mark Wilson says:

    Superb post Bill. Your three points are right on. So many people have item one, but miss out on two and never realise three significantly, BECAUSE they didn’t get it themselves.

  2. Pingback: My life as a Christian » Blog Archive » Good post!

  3. Kathy says:

    First, he “saw” what the Lord can do… God gave Paul what he needed; not what he deserved! More than a bit of time passed before I could get accept that this applied to me too, a sinner so needing what God could do in me. I was so thankful but stunned that God would and had given me what I needed, and Praise Him! – not what I so deserved.

    Second, Paul “saw” himself in the proper light…He knew—always knew and never forgot—it was God’s grace that made him what he was! In another passage he said: “By the grace of God, I am what I am…” (1 Corinthians 15:10) Learning to accept God’s grace in my life was a long, agonzing process, to accept that it applied to me too. It didn’t come immediately, but once realization hit, it stayed!! PTL!

    Third, Paul “saw” the potential for others… This did indeed come third in my sanctification walk and process. Now it’s rare that the potential for others is hidden behind my “me-ness”

    GREAT entry, Bill!! Keep ’em comin’ please!

    In the Light of God’s love, grace and mercy

    Kathy

  4. cwinwc says:

    Good thoughts Bill. At our church we have an emerging ministry with a number of Hispanic folks in our area. Most of them are here illegally. Now, you want to bring up something that will spur folks to strong emotions, bring up immigration and “illegals.”

    I must admit that I’ve had some strong opinions in this area but when I heard a small group of our “Spanish brothers and sisters” singing in our Fellowship Room yesterday, it melted my heart.

    We must be like the Apostle Paul and see the potential people have in them for the Kingdom, no matter what their status is.

  5. Greg England says:

    Very good. If I ever wanted to be a preacher, your blogs would give me a ton of material.

  6. danski says:

    Great post. Amen. The heart of a disciplemaker is too, seeing the glory of God magnified through lives changed to bring forth the message of good news to the ends of the earth and too, is to pass on the passion and burden God has put in our eyes for lives.

  7. Pingback: My Journal » Heart of a disciple maker

  8. Donna says:

    I love the way that God subtley teaches us lessons if we will just pay attention. His grace is suffecient to cover all sins…. we are the only ones who limit what his grace can do.

  9. Dee Andrews says:

    I wholeheartedly agree with all 3 points, Bill, because I’ve lived the first two mightily and am ever striving to accomplish the 3rd.

    Here are my thoughts about the 3rd. The commenter above says “i am praying for God to show me who He wants me to disciple.”

    Here’s what I found out, somehow, about 12 years ago or so, maybe by God’s leading and/or a moment of pure inspiration. Anyway, it was an amazing insight (if I say so myself, which I can do because I certainly don’t give myself the credit) into “how” to find someone to disciple.

    And it probably would be deemed to be a rather radical idea in some circles. (Y’all let me know what YOU think.) I started spending my hour or more commute time every morning from Slidell to New Orleans and later Metairie (just west of New Orleans) when I was in law school and later when I was practicing law praying. I would leave the radio off (because I figured I could see what traffic was doing out my car window and would try to block out all other distractions and just pray.

    Every morning I would pray and ask God to – send someone to ME that day who I could minister to. I know we need to be “out and about” our Father’s business, but I stopped thinking in terms of having to go to some great length to be able to discern someone else’s heart and tried to remain open, myself, so that I would be ready and accessible when whoever might come along who might be in some way looking or seeking for something just in conversations.

    I actively asked God to lead people to me in my daily walk who I could be Him for (if that makes any sense). Sometimes it was in very quiet, subtle ways, while in others it was pretty dramatic. It was also very surprising to me, because many times over it would end up being the person (getting back to your 3rd point above) who I would have least expected it to be. I’m serious.

    I was often amazed at how subjects would come up in conversations or in discussing other things or in talking with people about what was going on in their lives and all in ways I never could have planned or predicted. It worked! it works! It still works!

    I began sharing that “bit of advice” with my small group on Sunday evenings and started challenging them to try it. They were very skeptical and always kept coming back to the question, how do I find someone who I can talk with? How do I seek out those who might need help? What do I have to DO to try to “carry out” God’s message? How do I go about it? Where are there people who really need help.

    I kept sharing that it had become my experience that God was bringing those people to me every day. EVERY day.

    Finally, one Sunday afternoon as our small group gathered, one of the girls ran up to me and said, excitedly, I tried it. It worked! She began sharing what all had happened after she’d been praying for God to “bring” her someone when a co-worker came up to her wanting her counsel and to have lunch with her (they were both school teachers in Slidell). She went on to say how this lady really needed help and a friend, etc, and Roxanna (my friend) invited her to come with her to church and some other things.

    I think there’s probably potential in most everyone (except maybe those who are psychotic or sociopaths or terribly mentall deranged) and God knows those hearts much better than we do. I think – for myself – the most important thing we can do is to remain willing and ready to be a servant to whoever comes our way, asking God to lead some poor unfortunate soul in our direction while we are busy doing all the other things in life He would have us do.

    Does that make sense? Let me ask you all a question. Have any of you ever tried doing what I’m talking about here? Just curious. I’d be interested in knowing if you have and what happened as a result.

    Maybe I should throw out a challenge here, hunh, Bill? Any takers?

  10. Dee Andrews says:

    So, Greg –

    You thinking about going into preaching out there in sunny California, friend? I thought you were more suited to being a humorist, maybe, you think?

    I agree with you, though, about Bill’s posts. (I probably shouldn’t tell Bill this, since we want him to stay humble, but I’ve actually sent some young ministers over here, Bill, to read your posts telling them they could find some – a LOT of – good sermon material.)

    Cheers! Dee

  11. Greg England says:

    Dee: There are a few in the church where I’ve preached the past 14 years thinking I should try preaching some day!

  12. I have missed your blog for a week and I am glad I came back. Always refreshing and helpful. Today it it me on the numbers.

    Shalom,
    Bobby Valentine

  13. Natalie Rae says:

    Hi Bill,

    We spoke a while ago. I am currently preparing an essay on Galatians 3: 28 – was wondering if you could look over it?

  14. Friends,

    Your lives will be blessed if you pop over and read Greg’s related post. To go there click here: http://www.gregengland.com/?p=366

    -bill

  15. Pingback: The Rev’s Ramblings » Blog Archive » Radical Evangelism

  16. A disciple maker is something today’s world needs. Young people should indeed be brought closer to the word of Jesus Christ

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