What happens when you tell a kid to do something? Perhaps he or she begins to bargain and get out of the assignment or chore. Or promises vehemently that it will be done and you find hours later that it conveniently slipped their mind. But this is just kids, right?
Yet, how often do we do that to God? He puts a call on our heart and we turn away, brush it off like we never felt it or run around in circles to confuse what God is asking us to do. God has called us to make disciples, yet only about 17% of church members are involved in one-on-one discipleship.
Why? Here are three excuses we tell ourselves when confronted with the call of discipleship.
- I’m not good at it, so I shouldn’t do it.
I am very guilty of this. I do not like messing up and failing and if I am not automatically good at it or see drastic improvement quickly, I tend to give up. Call to discipleship? But Lord, I stutter and stumble over words and every conversation can be a struggle. After all, there are many gifted people in the church who are able to instantly connect with others, surely they would be better suited to this task.
Yet, the call is not exclusive. Matthew 28 does not say “those who are gifted should go and make disciples” nor does it say “those who are great conversationalists should go and make disciples”.
God is glorified in our weakness. Look at Moses, who had difficulties speaking. He led the nation of Israel out of Egypt, led them as they wandered in the wilderness. His insecurity did not hinder his ability, instead it allowed God to shine through him. The examples are endless, the Bible and history is riddled with imperfect people being used by a perfect God.
- I don’t have time for one-on-one
Again, guilty. We live in a world that demands our time and attention. It’s expected for us to have a full-time job, family, active lifestyle, and be heavily involved in the church. It’s a miracle that any of us find time to eat and sleep, much less time to devote to others important to us. How are we supposed to find time for discipleship when other things are more important?
The thing is, we can’t. If we are making other things the priority, we will not find the time for God. Paul is the epitome of a man who kept busy. Converted at a later age, he went on three missionary journeys, spent countless nights in various jails across the nations, and was constantly writing.
Despite this active lifestyle, Paul’s writings are filled with names of people he met, encouraging, admonishing, instructing them long after he is able to see them. His focus was people. Making disciples was not a side note for Paul, it was the reason he was going out. Christ was at the center, everything else took second place.
- My church doesn’t have a program to go through.
While programs through a local church is helpful and encouraging, we can’t let it hinder us when there isn’t one. Discipleship at the heart is a relationship. Programs are there to provide a meeting place and useful tips but discipleship still requires us to make the effort to reach out to other people. It’s not the program, or lack thereof, but heart issue that is causing us to refuse the call.
True, authentic discipleship isn’t found in the perfect program or by the perfect people; it is found when followers of Christ answer and step out in faith.
And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” – Isaiah 6:8 ESV