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Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers (Ps 1:1-3)
That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear” (Matt 13:1-9).
You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 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 Tim 2:1-2).
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you (John 15:16).
This article comes largely from a teaching Dick Schroeder gave recently to our staff. It was really, really good, and I thought to share it with you, with some of my own thoughts as well.
Dick has a very effective prayer life. When he prays, you know the Father is listening, and he is listening to the Father. And he shared with us a prayer he says very often:
“God, show me the people with a fertile heart!”
It is very simple, seemingly obvious. But when was the last time you prayed this prayer?
As a leader in Chi Alpha, you are a discipler. You are following the call of God to make disciples. So you must be earnestly searching for those who will be good disciples.
And I believe I’ve shared before the criteria we have at Missouri State for who we take on as student leaders, because they are the people we will disciple most heavily: they must be FAT—Faithful, Available, and Teachable. If they aren’t faithful to Christ and the ministry, they won’t be able to lead people to Christ. If they aren’t teachable, they cannot be discipled, because they will not learn. And if they are not available, it doesn’t matter how faithful and teachable they are, because they simply don’t have the time, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Really, FAT is how we describe people who have fertile hearts. These are the three key attributes we see as being the fertile soil Christ described in the Parable of the Sower, in our own context as staff looking for student leaders. We use different words, but it’s what we’re looking for.
But you aren’t looking for people who are ready to be student leaders already. Not yet. You’re looking for people who you can disciple, particularly those who could become student leaders. You’re still looking for people who are FAT, but it’s not quite the same way the staff are. It’s a little different.
For example, when we’re looking for student leaders, they must already be Christian. Many whom you disciple are probably already Christian, but many also have never heard the Gospel, or have rejected it all other times they have heard it. Perhaps they were fields of thorns, or stony soil, or the hard soil of the path. In time, they may become fertile soil as God picks up the stones, plows the soil, and uproots the weeds through their daily lives.
But remember that discipleship does not just happen. As Jesus said, He chose His disciples; they did not choose Him. Likewise, you must also choose those whom you will disciple to Christ.
Paul urged Timothy to “entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also”—to make disciples who will make disciples. To sow the seed of the Gospel in people in whom it will sprout and yield a harvest 30, 60, and 100 times greater. That is also your task.
How? How will you know which hearts are ready? How will you know the good soil from the stony, or the hard soil, or the briars? FAT is a good place to start, but it relies on seeing with your eyes.
I the Lord search the heart and test the mind (Jer 17:10).
For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart (1 Sam 16:7b).
And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God (Rom 8:27).
God knows who is the fertile soil. God knows whose hearts have had the stones removed, the thorns uprooted, and the soil plowed. You see what the other person is willing to show you; God sees them as they truly are.
So pray! This is the part of the semester where you are, above all else, seeking those whom you will disciple the closest. Ask God to show you. Pray the Spirit give you x-ray eyes, to see through into the internal condition of people.
What you find may surprise you! Be prepared to find good disciples who seem like they are wholly closed off. And be prepared for those who seem like the obvious choice to be entirely unteachable. God knows who they are. Listen to Him!