I wonder how much of what is accepted today as “shepherding” or “discipling” has the imprimatur of Christ’s life upon it?
- Appear to be indiscriminate in their selection of people:
- Jesus ministered at large to lepers and princes, outcasts and the elite. In selecting the twelve disciples, He chose rebels. Working-class men. Nondescripts. Their one commonality seemed to be a mutual hunger for God (Judas excepted).
- By contrast, we tend to choose those with whom we find a natural affinity: Those who “fit in” with our social, educational, or economic milieu.
- Are willing to suffer whatever is necessary to see their sheep mature:
Consider Paul’s example:
“Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect… I am in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you.” (2 Timothy 2:10a; Galatians 4:19b)
- By contrast, we tend to evaluate “success” in our ministry by such relatively superficial criteria as our disciples’ (1) mastery of certain disciplines, (2) their endorsement of our ministry objectives for them, or (3) their continued affirmation of us as their spiritual leader.
When John’s disciples met Jesus, John immediately stepped into the background, thereby allowing them to follow the Master. (John 1:35-39; 3:30)
By contrast, we run the risk of developing in our sheep an unhealthy sense of dependency upon us, or obligation to us. Unwittingly, this aberration is fostered through subtle manipulation or abuse of authority, thus delaying or inhibiting their matriculation toward healthy independence.
“Make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother‘s way.” (Romans 14:13b)
QUESTION: In ministering to others, what is our primary motivation: The furtherance of God’s Kingdom and Glory, or something as mundane or minuscule as our personal fulfillment or aggrandizement?