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I’ve noticed through the years there are generally two types of small group leaders by the time the year wraps up: 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 be a small group leader, or is reading good books about Jesus, or they’re continually making time to be with Chi Alpha community. These leaders are excited because they’re seeing the reward of their investment.
But then there are the exhausted small group leaders.
Their small group has no interest in discovering Jesus, their group makes choices to avoid community instead of being a part of it, and runs away from responsibility for others.
The excited leader can’t wait for the next small group night to start to be with their people, and the exhausted leader can’t wait for the school year to end to be away from their people!
Both leaders 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 isn’t.
So, what’s 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 small group?
Simon the Pharisee had His hours in a conversation about forgiveness but was unteachable to the Lord’s truth. Jesus didn’t 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, the ruler wanted to be faithful to his own riches more than Jesus, so the ruler walked away and Jesus let him walk! He didn’t attempt to bring him into small group.
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, 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 [emphasis mine] men who will be able to teach others also.”
Exhaustion is caused by investing the right time into the wrong people: ones who are unfaithful to Jesus, unavailable for community, 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.
In Jesus, we see this ministry principle lived out. 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.