Over the past few weeks I have talked to several people about discipleship. About teaching others to obey all that Jesus has commanded us, that’s really the basis of discipleship. Anyways I have received the same response several times. And it is not a huge surprise it is the same response that I gave for years. It comes in different forms but the basis of it is this. “Me? Teach? Disciple? There is no way I can teach or disciple. Maybe something else but not disciple. I don’t think I’m qualified. I don’t have anything to offer.”
I remember how just talking about it would raise the heart rate and bring a taste of panic.
I still have those same doubts every time I go to speak or write. The thing is we know our own inadequacies very well. We know we blew it with our spouse or kids 10 min ago. We know we blew that opportunity to help someone in need yesterday. We know we don’t measure up to a disciple ourselves. So we are left with this picture of “If we can’t get it right How can we help someone else get I right.”
So how do you encourage someone that they do have what it takes? How do you decide what qualifies someone to disciple others?
When this topic comes up my first instinct is to say “Look how far you have come. You have a great marriage. You have great kids. You are great at loving people.” but that never solves the issue. This is what was told to me by loving friends and family but I still couldn’t get past myself to help others. So what changed? What gives us the courage to step out?
Looking at the bible this same scenario plays out time and time again. God calls someone and says I will use YOU to do THis. And most respond “Huh? Me? I couldn’t. Do you know who I am what I’ve done?”. Dumb questions to ask the God who created and knows everything but that’s our natural response. So how does God handle people when they respond like this.
Look at the case with Moses. God calls. Moses responds “who am I” God responds “it’s not a matter of who you are. What matters is who I AM”
When I or someone else raise their eyebrows and express doubt about discipleship, my job is not to convince them that they are equal to the task. My job is to do what God did and convince them that God is equal to the task. “You’re right,” is the proper reply, “You’ve got nothing. Neither do I. But God has everything.”
In discipleship we are not attempting to present a perfect life, but Jesus’ perfect life. The goal is not to show people how to do everything right, but to apply the gospel when we do everything wrong. Here is a quote that I believe sums this up well.
“Unfortunately, you’ll never be moral enough and you will never measure up to a holy God. In fact, no matter how high you climb the spiritual ladder, you’ll never reach him. But there is good news. Jesus actually climbed down the spiritual ladder for you, died for your failure to perform morally, rose again, placed you on his back, and then climbed back up the spiritual ladder, where he placed you right in the presence of a holy God, fully loved and fully accepted.” Jonathan Dodson.
The next time you feel unqualified remind yourself of the Gospel. Remember that it is not your goodness that qualifies you but Jesus’. Remember that it is not what you know that you need to share but who you know. Remember it is not your ability but His that matters. Lean not on your own understanding but on His. You do the work (discipleship) and God does the miracles (making new).