Disciple-making impacts people internally (in their soul) and externally (in their behavior). To truly embrace the characteristics of a disciple-maker, you have to be faithful and sacrifice for another, even when things get hard.
You will learn four important characteristics of a disciple-maker in this week’s podcast.
Note: Below is a transcription of this Walking Our Talk podcast. Please excuse any grammatical or punctuation flaws, as the transcription is a written version of our fluid conversation.
Pauly [00:00:07] Welcome to walking our talk with Alan and Pauly Heller. Join our conversation as we discuss practical ways to apply spiritual principles to your everyday life and help you walk your talk one step at a time.
Alan [00:00:28] Well, here we are walking out. I just asked her if she would do the introduction. She won’t do it.
Pauly [00:00:35] No.
Alan [00:00:35] Today, we’re talking about discipling being a disciple-maker. Last time we ended, we talked about the environment that there we try and create the environment of love and grace and accountability. And we haven’t talked about this. We might take a whole session or two on how to understand your identity in Christ because that made a real difference. You can be a Christian, but not really accept God’s acceptance of you. And that gets in the way of you even wanting to be a disciple-maker. I think one of the things that happens many times in Christians’ lives is they learn to serve. They learn to give. They learn to do Christian living by doing the things that they are taught in church, but they don’t really internalize who they are in Christ and what that really means.
Pauly [00:01:35] Yeah, we end up getting discipled and then disciples and others in performance and doing exactly the opposite of what Jesus came to teach us. We end up being like the Pharisees, trying to do everything just right and look so good on the outside. When though the work of Jesus is done from the inside out.
Alan [00:01:59] But it’s pretty painful. I mean, picking up your cross and following me and I always say you don’t pin up on the refrigerator. I went to enjoy the fellowship of his suffering. That’s in Philippians. And people don’t want, that’s not the American way to go through pain. And yet what’s funny in sports, we do it. No. And in business, sometimes we’ll do anything to get success, even have disregard for our own body or our marriage or relationships. I mean, those who are very good at what they do spend a lot of time focused on what they do. And so you see many professionals, many actors, many football players, whatever, who are so consumed with their 8 to 10 to 15 hours of workout. Well, and then they come unglued because they’re trying to get a rest in their mind and in their souls. So they drink it away or do drugs or whatever and blow their lives apart.
Pauly [00:03:03] We even just watched the U.S. Open tennis match and Rafa Nadal, the Spanish tennis player who won the men’s championship, talked about suffering and how much he has to suffer when he is out on the court with these long rallies back and forth and back and forth.
Alan [00:03:27] And how matches that are a five-set match.
Pauly [00:03:30] Yeah. And it was more than five hours long that he and his opponent were out on the tennis court. And he said that he really respected the other player for the amount he had to suffer.
Alan [00:03:44] At the hands of him who suffered more.
Pauly [00:03:47] Right. Right. We respect people who are willing to make those kinds of sacrifices.
Alan [00:03:54] And the question is, are we?
Pauly [00:03:58] Yeah, especially here.
Alan [00:03:59] I’d rather watch it on TV and let him suffer. Go get my ice tea and have our snack and popcorn and everything.
Pauly [00:04:03] Yeah, exactly.
Alan [00:04:07] So it’s like I was told early in my Christian life that, you know, watching a football game, there are 60,000 people that are supposed to be getting exercise and they’re only 22 of them that are really getting the exercise.
Alan [00:04:21] So here are some of the things that I think are important with the making being intentional. Jesus chose twelve that they would be with him. So in Luke 6:12-13, it says it was at this time that he went off to the mountain to pray. Which again, how much are you praying about the people that God wants you to impact and spend the whole night in prayer to God? I won’t even ask the question, how many of you have done that? And when the day came, he called his disciples to him and he chose 12 of them, who he also named apostles.
Alan [00:05:02] So when I think back to my own experience, I was chosen by Joe Webb to be a disciple. And he asked me he gave me the parable of the sower and the seeds. And what kind of soil do you want to be, Alan? And of course, I said I want to be good soil. I didn’t have any idea what that meant, but I have been through gymnastics and I’ve hurt my body and hurt myself in order to gain the goal of doing it well. And sometimes even getting recognition for it in terms of a medal or something. But we need to be intentional about picking somebody who looks faithful, available and committed, and teachable.
Alan [00:05:51] So sometimes you pick somebody and doesn’t work out. And you know what? That’s okay. You go to the next one and you sometimes need to take a few weeks, sometimes even months where you’re pouring into somebody’s what you know and what it means to be a follower of Christ, whether it’s reading the word or helping them have a time with the Lord every day, which we call a quiet time, where we connect with the Lord or dealing with spiritual warfare and talking about Ephesians six and what it means to put on the helmet of salvation and shot your feet with the gospel of peace and the breastplate of righteousness and holding up your shield of faith, which is able to quench all the fiery darts of the evil one. But sometimes in a few weeks, you realize they’re not showing up. And even this year, I had somebody who I thought wanted to learn and be a disciple. And I changed my schedule. I did some things to reorient my life, to give to him. And, you know, sometimes it’s personal and sometimes has nothing to do. It’s just he’s an executive that doesn’t have the time to do it right now. It’s a time of life. But I want to be helping people that want help. I don’t want, I don’t want to keep pouring my life into somebody who doesn’t show up, who keeps giving excuses, why they didn’t read the material, who gives excuses as to why they can’t meet during the hour that I’m driving a half hour to meet them and then they’re not there.
Pauly [00:07:23] Right. We were talking about this last night with another friend of ours who is a young man was running, he was a manager, at a very popular restaurant chain. He had a lot of responsibility.
Alan [00:07:38] He was the youngest guy who was hired by this chain.
Pauly [00:07:40] Right. and so his supervisor came in and had asked him to go out to paint something, and he would do it. And two days later, the supervisor came back and said, “I notice you didn’t do this, and he said, “I didn’t have time.” And he said, Did you eat lunch today? Yeah. You had time to eat, but you didn’t make time to do the thing that I asked you to do.
Pauly [00:08:17] And, you know, accountability and responsibility show up in small areas of our lives. We think sometimes, oh, I could do this really big thing, but I’m not responsible to do the little thing. So how can I be trusted with something bigger if I’m not responsible to do that smaller thing? But isn’t that the job of the disciple-maker to say, you know, you want to grow? You say you want to grow. You say you want to become a mature believer. But I asked, did you do a small thing? And you haven’t done that small thing. How can you expect me to ask you or even expect God to ask you to do something bigger?
Alan [00:09:04] Well, and he says that to whom much is given, much is required. And if you’re faithful with little, he will make you faithful over much. So what I ask people is, are you giving thanks for where you are right now, even though it’s not working out and you have this great vision of what you’re going to do. And you don’t think got the right idea? Well, he happens to be infinite and you are finite. So, you know, I always go back to these verses that are comforting to me to dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness and fruitfulness. If you’re faithful, you will be fruitful. And that’s God’s promise to you. That’s not my promise to you. But he says in John fifteen if you abide in me and my word abides and you ask what you will and it shall be done for you. And John, 15, says, Abide in me as a branch cannot bear fruit unless it abides in the vine. You cannot bear fruit if you don’t abide. And he says, apart from me, you can do absolutely nothing.
Pauly [00:10:08] Yeah.
Alan [00:10:10] So, I mean, he says it so clearly. But we are very dull of hearing. And so were his disciples. He even worked with him. So if they were dull, I guess we can be dull too. The first thing is intentionality. A disciple-maker is intentional about who he chooses. And Jesus had 12 disciples and one messed up. So if the God of the universe has one mess up, then maybe you might have one too. So be encouraged.
Alan [00:10:36] Faithful. Second, Timothy 2:2. We’ve already talked about choose faithful men and women who will train others also in training them, in keeping time with the Lord, having a disciple of their own. One of the best ways to learn, of course, is to teach. So whether that’s one on one or small group have your disciple, especially if you’re in a group. Pass it on to somebody else. And ah, we have a homegroup that meets every Thursday. And if I’m out of town or if I just want a certain person to grow deeper, usually I’d just say, hey, would you mind taking the lesson? Well. Well, I don’t know. Yeah. Because it’s you have to prepare. And I think a lot of times people think that you just walk into an appointment and you’ve done nothing to prepare. Most of the time, the things I do, I pray for the appointment that I’m going to see. I think about Lord, what are the things this person needs? And so are there articles or is there a page in a book that I’ve read? Or I could give people 10 books that they need to read, but that just piles them under. So I’d just say, you know, what’s the most important thing this time for this hour to give to them?
Pauly [00:11:55] Well, and don’t you think, Alan, that it’s more than just spiritual, quote-unquote, spiritual things like reading their Bibles and praying? Are there other disciplines, other areas of their lives that you’re wanting to hold them accountable for other activities?
Alan [00:12:15] Yes, I go and play golf with a guy and I find out how what’s his anger quotient when he throws that club? I’m going, wow, that didn’t happen in our Bible study the other day. So playing sports or games or like I say, going to their work or having them come to your home, they will see certain things that aren’t in your house that may be in their house, questionable literature, questionable things on the wall or whatever. So by doing projects and serving other people, that’s the other thing I think is important, is being faithful to give more than receiving.
Alan [00:12:55] And if I show care to them many times the first two or three times I get together with somebody who says they really want to grow in the Lord. And I say, I’m going to call you if I don’t hear from you this week. And I call him and I ask him, how are you doing? There’s almost this silence at the other end like he really called me. He really cares so. And I remember one time in a counseling setting, I got upset with a very controlling woman I was dealing with. And I said to her the next session, I need to apologize. Last time I got upset and that was wrong. And I need your forgiveness. And again, there was this pause and she started crying and she said, you are the first authority figure who has ever asked forgiveness of me. And it means a lot to me.
Pauly [00:13:52] Wow.
Alan [00:13:53] So, I mean, many times, even if you make mistakes as a disciple-maker, that can be helping somebody realize that you’re faithful and you keep going even when there’s adversity. So we talked about intentional being faithful and then sacrificial. Jesus gave his life. So we should give our life to others. We give up time. We give up sometimes our talent, sometimes our money. Sometimes I’ve given a few years ago, we had a couple in our group that they came and they were new to the church and they’re living together, but they ran into financial problems and but they had been faithful to come. And I thought, you know, maybe if we give something to them, then it can lift them up out of where they are, which was a very self-centered type situation. And it took months. And actually, they moved out of the state and they moved back in, but they paid it off and actually paid extra. The loan that was given them. And in that case, it worked out. But I can give you seven other times that it didn’t work out, that I sewed some seed and it never came back.
Pauly [00:15:11] But isn’t a sacrifice something that you give to the Lord and you leave it on the altar and you walk away from it because you’ve released it completely to the Lord. And when you give sacrificially, it’s not just that it’s painful. You’re giving something that you could have used for yourself. But when you give it, you’ve taken your hands off of it. You’ve released it to the Lord to do with it whatever he is going to do in that person’s life.
Alan [00:15:44] Well, and the way you know, whether you’ve really given it in love, which is without strings attached, is whether you’re bitter after it doesn’t work out.
Pauly [00:15:54] Right.
Alan [00:15:54] So if you get upset at your disciples, if you get upset when you’re counseling somebody, it shows that you’re probably getting in the way. And so that’s one of the ways that I know I’m not doing Christ love. And it’s not sacrificial because Christ gave his life for people that didn’t deserve it. So he demonstrated his love in that while we were yet sinners. He died for us, so he died for sinners. And we still are sinners, but God has made us saints in him. And if we really are doing it the way Jesus did it, sacrifice will be a gift, not something that we regret.
Pauly [00:16:37] We regret.
Alan [00:16:39] Or, you know, it will be painful. There’s no doubt about that. So as we wrap up this session. So we’ve talked about it being intentional as a disciple, disciple, or being faithful and sacrificial. Now, I just talked a little bit about it, but having a vision for your disciple, Stephen Covey wrote a book called The End in Mind. In other words, you want to start by thinking, what will it look like at the end of this journey?
Alan [00:17:09] And as I gave the illustration of Peter, Jesus said, you know, he saw him as a rock. Now, not just a pebble. Barnabus and Paul. Barnabus was willing to sacrifice his reputation and life and take Paul to Jerusalem, who, you know, at that time, Paul was killing Christians. And so the guys at Jerusalem were not real excited that Barnabas was believing in this guy that could kill them all. And but Barnabas stood by him. And then Paul said that John Mark in the Book of Acts, he says he was not useful for the ministry, but Barnabas took him in because he saw something in John Mark that was going to be good in the future. And he took him. And then later, Paul in his ministry says, Bring John Mark. He’s fruitful for ministry. And so you never know what stage of life a person is at. So don’t totally give up on them. You may have to stop fellowship for a while. You may have to do something radical for a while. But, you know, we have so many stories of people in their 60s repenting. You know, there was this nationally televised preacher recently that just recanted bad theology and said, I recant this. This is wrong. I’ve been teaching this for 30, 40 years. And now I recanted. I don’t know what you do. I mean, God’s going to have to take care of the people that he messed up. But all I’m saying is all of us have room to grow and change. And having a vision for where somebody can be not looking at where they are really empowered disciples.
Pauly [00:18:51] Yeah. That is so true, Alan. I have a young woman in my life right now who is finishing up college. She has college loans. She has a lot of debt. She’s also doing her student teaching while she’s finishing her schooling. And in order to pay off student loans, she’s working. She has very, very little time in her life to take care of some other really important things. Like I ask her. Have you been exercising? How is your diet? How are you doing in this area and that area? And I know that those things are not going very well for her right now. But I also know that very, very soon this stage of her life is going to come to an end and she’ll be able to move forward. And that’s what I am looking forward to, is where she’s going to be in another six months from now.
Alan [00:19:50] So we’ve gotten through four characteristics and we are going to go to eleven and we’re going to start going a little bit faster. We hope you’re getting a lot out of our time together talking about what it means to be a disciple. And we hope you’re walking your talk and we’ll look forward to seeing you next.
Pauly [00:20:10] This has been Walking Our Talk with Alan and Pauly Heller, where we put into action those principles. We know from God’s word one step at a time. You can find more help on our website: walkandtalk.org.