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There are generally two types of disciple-makers: those who are excited and those who are exhausted.
Those who are excited are filled with energy because one of their disciples is training to make disciples, reading good books about Jesus, or continually making time to be with community. These leaders are excited because they are seeing the reward of their investment.
This is in large contrast to the exhausted disciple-maker. The exhausted disciple-maker’s small group has no interest in discovering Jesus. His or her group avoids community instead of being a part of it, running away from responsibility for others.
The excited leader cannot wait for the next small group to be with his or her people, and the exhausted leader cannot wait for the school year to end to be away from them. Both disciple-makers did the same amount of actions, and even had the same quality in their actions, but the excited leader is seeing production and the exhausted leader is not.
So, what is the difference?
More often than not, the difference is not about what was discipled but who was discipled. The excited leader invested the right time with the right people. But the exhausted leader invested the right time with the wrong people.
Everyone of course should be loved, and when we look at Jesus, we see Him loving everyone He came across. But did He invite every person He met into a discipleship relationship?
Simon the Pharisee had His hours in a conversation about forgiveness but was unteachable to the Lord’s truth. Jesus did not invite him into small group. The Rich Young Ruler had His minutes in a conversation about eternal life. Jesus told Him what eternal life costs and the ruler wanted to be faithful to his own riches more than Jesus. This resulted in the ruler walking away from Jesus, and Jesus did not chase after Him!
Jesus gave numerous people His minutes and hours, but only His disciples had His investment of months and years.
Jesus evangelized the many but only discipled the few who were faithful, available, and teachable—a method the Apostle Paul recommended to his own disciple Timothy when he said, “And the things you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2).
Exhaustion is caused by investing the right time into the wrong people: ones who are unfaithful to Jesus, unavailable for community, and unteachable in truth. But excitement is caused by investing the right time into the right people: the faithful to Jesus, the available to community, and the teachable in truth. These disciples are the ones who will be responsible with truth by finding others to disciple.
In Jesus we see this ministry principle worth replicating. Simply put, the love of God is unconditional, but His investment is not.
We should evangelize the many, but we can only disciple the faithful, available, and teachable.