Recognizing Burnout

Zeal Without Burnout Book cover

A couple days ago I came across the book entitled Zeal without Burnout, by the English pastor Christopher Ash. I remember reading about burnout in ministry years ago but couldn’t put my finger on the details. So, I thought I’d take a try at this short book. It was well worth it to be reminded of the things that can burn us out in ministry, whether personal or professional.

While Ash writes from the perspective of burnout as a full-time pastor, he also writes as someone who has experienced burnout himself. And he includes several stories of others who went through similar, but different, things. There is plenty in this book that a layman in a church setting can learn and use to evaluate how close he might be coming to burnout – and what to do to prevent burnout from taking hold of your life.

Here are a few quotes that I thought were “post worthy.” (I left the British English as it was.)

“Many zealous Christians juggle the responsibilities of pressurized work and busy family lives with a desire to serve the Lord in the church as Elders, Bible-study leaders, or ministry with children and young people. Those of us who are pastors can be guilty of underestimating the stresses they face as they seek to serve the Lord in ways that are often invisible to us.” (page 16)

“There’s always more we can do in ministry, but God is not asking, “Can you do more?” He is asking, “Do you love me?” Some of those extras are not always as vital as we think them to be.” (page 32)

“Or perhaps you are still in that successful career, but serving whole heartedly in your local church. The prestige and status given you by that career matter more than perhaps you realize. The wholehearted local-church service you squeeze into a busy life gives you very little affirmation and praise from others. It is tempting to pitch our energies into the activities that result in praise from others.” (page 86)

“The really important stuff—changed hearts—cannot be measured. Go din his grace sometimes gives us a glimpse, an encouragement, some evidences of grace. But it can’t be measured. You pray for someone and they don’t change. Who knows but they may change years later under someone else’s ministry (I planted, but Apollos watered). Or the fruit may come after you die. I don’t know; you don’t know. But we do know that in the Lord Jesus our labour is not in vain. (page 99)

And finally, spiritual “gifts without grace save no one’s soul.” (page 106)

That quote about not seeing measurable ministry outcomes spoke significantly to me. My tendency when not seeing the outcomes I desire causes me to consider working (ministering) all the more, harder and harder to reach an objective. And that, Ash explains, is what leads so easily to burnout. He provides seven things that can help us avoid burnout; although none of them are simple steps. They require us to speak the truth to ourselves and allow others to do the same – to speak to us whenever we need it.

Words like: “Remember, there is only one Saviour of the world; and it’s not you, and it’s not me.” (page 62)

This book took only about five hours to read. I would recommend everyone read it once, and keep it somewhere that you can read it again, perhaps each year.

Does This Picture Represent Your Workplace? Probably not!

Group Meeting

Look at the picture above. You’ve probably seen many like it. When I was writing in the corporate world, this might be the exact picture that I wanted in a document facing the customer or even those we wanted to recruit to work with us.

How could you not love that photo? An equal number of men and women. They’re interacting with one another. Multi-ethnic, although not fully, when you really look at it. And while that might not be a glaring problem, there is another.

This photo most likely does not represent your workplace.

As I write this article, thousands of young 20-somethings are finishing college and are excited to begin their new jobs. They’re coming from a place that looks pretty much like the photo. And they’re expecting to work at a place that looks pretty much like the photo.

I was talking with a friend that I mentor who finished his bachelor’s and masters last year at Vanderbilt University. He had spent six years learning his profession with people that were as diverse as the photo but were basically all the same as him.

Something that he said relates to what’s wrong with the photo above. “I’m the youngest guy on my Everyone else is at least 20 years older than men. Many of them have kids around my age. I simply can’t relate to them; at all.

I remember feeling the same way as a new nurse. I was paired up with Lois, who constantly reminded me that, “I was a nurse before you were born.” Most co-workers are not as spiteful as Lois was, but it’s quite difficult to relate to someone the same age as your parents. (Actually, Lois was almost old enough to be my grandmother!)

The fact of life is that in most first full-time jobs that we land, we will be the youngest person on the team. Not only are we adjusting to work-life that requires us to be to work on time, looking appropriate, and awake. We can be stumped at how to talk with co-workers that are significantly older than us.

They haven’t seen the same movies we have. (I say “we” when I’m actually not one of you!) They definitely do not listen to the same music as we do. And they don’t tend to go to the hipster bar or bistro we enjoy. In fact, most of them just want to go home after work because they need to help their spouse with the kids and housework.

It’s a dilemma for which college didn’t prepare us. (Okay, there are several things that college didn’t prepare us for.)

With all the discomfort of adjusting to living on your own, probably not even in the same city as your parents, who needs to try to relate to a bunch of old geezers? Why not just mumble, “Okay, boomer” under your breath and retreat to your space at work and home?

Why not? Because these people are a goldmine. They’ve been there and done that more times than they can count. They are a wealth of information, not only about the job but about living life.

So set your preconceived idea (that you didn’t even know that you had) about being on a happy team of people all your age and get on with your personal growth at work and home. Include older co-workers in your life, and surprisingly, many of them will include you.

Life will become more vibrant with them than life without them.

~ ~ ~

Photo by fauxels from Pexels

If this article was stimulating, you might enjoy this 15-minute TEDx video of Leah George, Ph.D., who talks about five generations all working together in this decade.

Praying about a Relationship doesn’t Help without This!

Praying Hands on Bible

One of the guys I mentor has been going out with a pretty sweet gal. But then life got in the way. At my encouragement, he divulged to her some personal struggles that he was facing over the past year. She did not take it very well. And like many relationships, once there is one hole in the dike, more tend to appear.

She couldn’t figure out why he wouldn’t just fix the problem. One way she responded was to spend more time at his apartment. He then revealed that he needed some space; he wasn’t comfortable spending every free moment sitting with her. Yes, she needed reassurance in their relationship, but he needed some time to process.

Like many relationships, this one seemed headed toward failure. In desperation, she decided to go home to her family for a couple of weeks. They agreed that while physically apart, they would each pray about where they were going together. While that sounds good, it’s actually a bad idea.

Nope, I’m not against prayer. I think that prayer is significant in many ways. The Bible says we should pray about everything at all times. Just not this way.

Whether someone is married or single, when relationships hit hard times, the idea of separating for a time of prayer and reflection sounds good. What exactly would you be asking God to do when you pray?

For the other person to change? For you to be more understanding? How exactly will either of these happen?

I encouraged my friend to set up some phone calls to begin talking about the differences between him and his girlfriend. But more importantly, to start digging down to learn why he is the way that he is, and why she is the way that she is.

Without some of these hard conversations, we will never get down to the bottom of our conflict. It’s not all his fault. It’s not all her fault. It’s two people trying to become one without losing their own personal identity.

That takes talking to each other. Hearing both sides. Seeking to not only understand but also to help the other person grow while you grow yourself.

This type of self-examination together can be very scary. What if she doesn’t like who I really am? Why do I feel so passionate about something? Does the other person need to adopt my passion? Can I love her without owning her passion? What might happen if my passion is misplaced? Is my identity tied up in a particular passion?

For a relationship to grow strong, both people need to understand themselves and the other person. And we can’t assign a value to the other person’s traits. His love of the outdoors isn’t a rejection of your desire to cuddle on the couch. It’s not wrong; it’s different.

When you begin to have difficulties in your relationship, take the time to think about why you’re reacting the way you do. Why does your partner feel or think the way they do? How do those differences actually complement you as a couple?

By all means, pray about your relationship. Yet, spend at least as much time talking to each other as you do praying. And talk about the hard things, not just the casual things that are safe. If you’re headed toward marriage, you must tackle these issues. You can do it now or later, but they won’t just go away on a wing and a prayer.

~~~

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

100×23 San Antonio Challenge

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Throughout the years, different organizations and individuals have created challenges to reach some sort of goal. One of the best-known recent challenges was the “Ice Bucket Challenge” developed by the Pete Frates and Pat Quinn in 1984. It resulted in $115,000,000 in donations to research and fight ALS. This is proof that at least some challenges work.

I have spent several days reflecting, praying, and reading certain passages in my Bible and decided to start a local challenge in San Antonio. Called 100×23, the name is looking for the goal of one hundred new disciple-makers by December 2023.

I’m not sure that I have ever heard of a challenge in the Christian realm. Sure, we have the Great Commission to make disciple of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20), and that’s definitely a source verse for my challenge. In the in recent past, many Christian organizations pulled together to each all the unknown people groups by 2020. While we missed the goal, there are still plenty of groups working to reach the unreached.

But to do either of those two examples, we need disciple-makers (sometimes referred to as disciples who make disciples). How can we ever reach the uttermost ends of the Earth, including the unreached, without a plan to make and equip disciple-makers?

In my home, I have a map of San Antonio on the wall. There are blue dots spread across the map where I know of people who are actively making disciples. There are also red dots of people who are disciples. Perhaps they are ministering to others, but they have yet to make a disciple themselves.

What would happen to San Antonio if we raised up another one hundred new disciple-makers over the next three years? What if we had one or two new disciple-makers in every local church in the city (knowing that there are more than one hundred churches in San Antonio)?

Jesus said that the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few (Matthew 9:35-38). There’s simply no way that pastors in the city can equip every disciple to be a disciple-maker. The real work (labor) in the harvest will come from disciple reproducing themselves.

Over the next two weeks, I want to establish a baseline of how many active disciple-makers we have in the city. Many of them will be essential in raising up one hundred more disciple-makers. Each time I think about this challenge, which has been very frequently the past few days, I get excited about the possibilities of what God can do with one more disciple-makers in San Antonio.

Would you mark your calendar to pray for this challenge on the 23rd day of each month? Of course, you can pray on other days as well!

 

Photo credit: Ryan McGuire from Pixabay

Are We All Called to Be Evangelists?

Soapbox - Photo credit - lastonein on Visual Hunt

This will be the first in a short series on Evangelism and Witnessing.

Recently among a group of college students (all who claim to be followers of Jesus), a discussion broke out. One of them confidently said, “We all need to be evangelists.” A few heads nodded. Then someone disagreed. Sides formed – for and against.

Is there truth to the statement that we all need to be evangelists? I’ll join that fray and express my opinion, which I believe will be grounded in Scripture. So, let’s start there.

The word evangelist appears in most New Testaments only three times. Twice, the writer is speaking of a specific person. Philip is referred to as an evangelist in Acts 21:8. And Timothy is told by Paul to “do the work of an evangelist” in 2 Timothy 4:5.

Those are quite specific references, and I think we can all agree that it would not be a good Bible study application to make these citations into broad commands to the Body of Christ. In both these cases, the work of an evangelist set these two men apart from other believers.

Isn’t it interesting that the verse in Acts is referring to Philip, who welcomed the missionaries, Paul and Luke, into his home as an evangelist? At no time was either Paul or Luke given such a title. Paul is usually referred to as an apostle, and Luke as his co-worker, but never as evangelists. Yet, there’s a probability that no one preached the gospel to more people in the first century than Paul.

That brings me to my first point. Thayer’s Greek Lexicon describes the Greek word εὐαγγελιστής (euaggelistēs) as the name, “given in the New Testament to those heralds of salvation through Christ who are not apostles.”

We find apostles and evangelists mentioned together in Ephesians 4:11 and 12. There, Paul writes, “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ” (NASB).

My second point will be made as we look closely at this verse from Ephesians. Note that the verse says that “some” of the people mentioned were given by God. In the common Greek of the first century, “some” was not a separate word but part of the noun (apostle, prophets, evangelist). The King James Version, New American Standard Bible, New Century Version, New English Translation, New Revised Standard Version, and World English Bible all use the word “some.” In the English Standard Version and New International Version, the translators opted to use the word “the” instead of “some.”

But here’s my point. Whether you say “the” or “some” evangelists, it’s pretty clear that these people were not everyone in the local church. As a matter of fact, all of these apostles, evangelists, and teachers were given by God to “equip the saints.” The majority of the Body of Christ is not functioning in one of these four or five roles. The majority is being equipped by the minority.

These are the three places where the word evangelist occurs. None of these are telling the “average Joe Christian” to be an evangelist. Just like no verse tells every Christian to be a pastor or a teacher.

Based on the three uses of the word evangelist in the New Testament and my two discussion points, I would strongly contend that we are not all called to be evangelists.

God called us all to be His people, but as His people, we have different roles, in the same way that we have different gifts. Paul made it clear that everyone does not have the same gift (1 Corinthians 12:27-30).

Let’s stop trying to make other people experts in the gift that God may have given us. Let’s enjoy our diversity as given to us by God and help one another function well in the gift that the Holy Spirit decided each of us to individually have.

In my next post, I will discuss whether my conclusion that we are not all called to be evangelists relieves us from telling others about our faith in Jesus.

Book Review: Divine Intentions

Divine Intentions

Another Book on Purpose and Identity that Misses the Mark

Three quotes from the Introduction of Divine Intentions provide a hint of the author’s bend: a man-centered gospel. “Yet God is obsessed with us.” “God desires to make His every plan and every purpose be your true-life story.” “God is relentlessly committed and lovingly devoted to you.” I wish, instead, that it read, “You are relentlessly committed and lovingly devoted to God.”

Reed writes, “One of my goals for this book is to increase your curiosity and decrease your caution.” By caution, he means “playing it safe” in life. But the reader needs to take caution about the conclusions that Reed applies here. Especially when he uses a loosely translated Bible (the Living Bible Translation) to support his assumptions. Each supporting verse should be reviewed in a more literal translation to ensure that it supports the claims being made.

Reed writes, “we have been lovingly designed by God for a specific purpose. We can fill our life with lesser things, but He lovingly designed us to hold the treasure of destiny. He created us with the capacity to fulfill all He has planned for us.” Unfortunately, I can’t find where Reed tells us what that purpose is. The word purpose occurs 63 times in this book, a majority of those pointing to God’s purpose, yet without describing what the purpose is.

The old catechisms tell us that the chief purpose of man is to glorify God. Divine Intentions seems to reverse this to make God’s purpose is to make people feel good about themselves. Does God desire to make use whole and restored as Reed claims – yes! But we must ask the question “to want end?” The end result of my being whole and restored is that I will glorify God. That major end is missing from this book.

Book Review: The Portrait of a Christian

Portrait

I was provided with a pdf copy of this book and asked to give an honest review. I will first admit that the book was so tedious to read that I started skimming to see if it got any better. It did not.

This book was published as a second edition in 2014 by “Minister Raymond D. Sopp.” There is no indication of Sopp’s qualification as a “Minister,” nor of how he claims to have been called by God to be a “Watchman.”

This book was published by Redemption Press (a subsidy/vanity publisher), whose website claims to “multi-layered editing services,” including content coaching, line editing, content editing, and proofreading. It seems that either Sopp opted out of those services, or the services are terribly inadequate. This is evidenced by a huge number of punctuation errors through the book; commas where they didn’t belong and missing where they should have been; various Bible passages strung together into paragraph filling an entire page.

There are a number of things that are different than you would expect in this book. It begins with an Acknowledgments page that only contains the sentence, “To God be the Glory!” Don’t acknowledgements usually include people. The “About the Author” page tells you very little about the author, other than he’s been a “born-again Christian for more than thirty-eight years.” Nothing about where he’s from, any training/education. But he did include his purpose for writing the book, which should actually be in the Preface several pages later. But before the Preface is a couple pages on his being called “as a watchman to God’s Church.” Even these pages are often difficult to follow.

The Preface also warns that we “might be spiritually blind,” but God has “supernaturally placed [him] in a position to have eyes to see the enemy or trouble coming from afar.” I’m sorry to say that when I read this the first thing I thought of were a number of cult leaders who told their followers that they had some special gift from God.

Sopp’s solution to the deception of the world, seen mostly through an emphasis of miracles in the modern church, is provided in “thirty-one commentaries-warning-admonishments.” He uses alternate words in his writing. He calls Jesus “the Deliverer (Savior)” of “the world (Egypt).” I never found a place where he said what Jesus was delivering us from or why he equates Egypt to the world.

Sopp quotes a lot of Scripture in his book. Unfortunately, it seems that he tends to pull verses out of context, applying them to his ideas. For example, Sopp states that we shouldn’t try to build the Church using the world’s techniques, and he then quotes Exodus 20:25 as his proof text, which was God’s instructions on building an altar. How he goes from not using tools to build an altar to not using worldly techniques in build the church is left unsaid.

As I continue to skim through this book, I assumed that I would eventually read some specifics that provided a “portrait of a Christian.” Alas, there was none. The book title doesn’t even seem to give you an idea of the book’s content, but then neither does the book cover. I’m sorry that the author has had trouble finding God’s love in the Church and it’s most unfortunate that he doesn’t see things getting any better in the future (page 307). Perhaps the author might approach the Church, which he claims to love so much, differently than his book implies. Maybe then he will experience the love that Jesus commanded we have for one another (John 13:34, 35).

What seems to be most amazing is that this book has nine reviews on Amazon of four or five stars. I’m not sure the reviewers actually read the book, although one does write that she “sometimes had a very hard time following him.” I would say that following him is difficult through the majority of the book. Because of all that I’ve mentioned above, and more left unmentioned, I can only give this book two stars and suggest that you invest your time and money in some other book.

Book Review: Babel: The Story of the Tower and the Rebellion of Man (The Fall of Man Book 3)

Babel

I received a free pdf copy of this book available on Kindle as well as paperback. The author requested a review. So I need to first say that I only made it about a quarter of the way through the book (totaling 378 pages as a pdf file).

The premise of the book was interesting. The story is about the Tower of Babel, and the author points out that Noah was still alive at the time the Tower was built. The author questions why Noah did not have more positive influence over the people who built the Tower, a mere 300 years after the Flood.

While the idea of a story about Noah’s descendants who build the Tower of Babel while Noah is still alive is indeed interesting, I myself just couldn’t engage with the story line. I consider myself a fan of historical fiction, and I understand that the fiction part is developed while supported by historical fact. I found little historical fact that carried the story forward for me. Here’s some examples.

First, and to me most importantly, I was led to believe that this book was Christian historical fiction. Noah is often referred to as a “prophet of the Almighty.” Christianity does not refer to Noah as a prophet – but Islam does. There are times within the book when “the Almighty” appears or speaks to Noah in a vision. But there are also times when Noah “consults with” the Almighty. That makes him sound more like an oracle than a prophet.

Without much explanation, the reason for the Flood is given as the biblical reason (the sinfulness of man) versus another god, “the Light Bringer,” who destroyed the earth with a falling star that caused the Flood. Followers of the Light Bringer are at odds with Noah and the followers of the Old Way (and the Almighty), both before and after the Flood.

Ham, who in the biblical story sees his father Noah sleeping drunk and naked, has a serious disdain for Noah because he loved the Almighty more than Ham. The Light Bringer contacts Ham while still on the Ark and Ham denies the Almighty and begins to follow the Light Bringer along with all of his family members.

Speaking of family members, everyone alive at this point are direct descendants of Noah, yet some people are “workers” and some are slaves without any indication of how family members were enslaving one another. For example, after all the family members finish saying goodbye to Noah’s dead wife (Jade), the “workers” fill the grave with dirt. Weren’t they also family members?

Historical fiction needs to reflect history accurately and that includes topography. Noah is said to be living at the base of Mount Ararat. All the available water has been tainted by the Flood, which apparently occurred over 100 years before this story begins. Would there not be fresh water streaming down from the mountain by this time? The tainted water is given as the reason why Noah is drinking wine and getting drunk (albeit also as he suffers from the death of his wife).

The author also doesn’t seem to take the weather into consideration around Mount Ararat. Noah gets up in the morning and is harvesting grapes. Yet while he is walking, he is sweating profusely. Grapes would be ready to eat/harvest in late September in eastern Turkey – not exactly a time that would bring up a sweat in the morning.

Noah’s sons carry their mother on a mat made of bamboo. While there is a type of bamboo that grows in eastern Turkey, it would not be growing in the area around Mount Ararat and there’s no indication that it was strong enough to make mats (since it’s really a type of flax).

One other topography concern. The book implies that a servant traveled to Noah’s vineyard from near Babel (modern day Babylon). Noah then travels back with the servant to visit his sons Shem and Japheth who are living in that area. While Mount Ararat is directly north of Babylon, it’s over 1,000 kilometers to the north. Yet the book says they cover than distance in two weeks; that’s about 50 miles a day and would have more likely taken four to five weeks.

With this many historical errors involved in the story line I just couldn’t find it in me to finish the book. It became too much of a chore reading about Ham and Nimrod being possessed by the spirit of the Light Bringer to enjoy it.

How Many People Become a Disciple?

Work Boots

After church last Sunday, I was casually talking to three 20- and 30-somethings and the subject of my work of making disciples came up. One of them asked, “How many people ‘complete’ their disciple training?” I was much more interested in the heart of his question than the accuracy of his terminology. And what a good question it was!

My answer used an example from a few years previous. A single’s pastor was giving a sermon on being single (makes sense). He had given me a heads up that he would be mentioning me during his message.

While most of the sermon was about younger people “learning to wait on God” for a spouse, he also mentioned those of us who are single again. For me, that’s through the death of my wife. He pointed out that I took the extra time that I now had (after grieving) and was investing in the lives of a number of men in his single’s group.

When the sermon ended, I was approached by nine men who wanted to know if I would mentor them (the pastor did use that term). I’m aware that there were a couple other guys standing on the outside of the little cluster of inquirers. Those men simply walked away without talking with me. Perhaps they had to leave; maybe they thought there wouldn’t be room for them once everyone else got on my calendar.

I first point is that some gave up trying to get help before they even asked for it. Many people know that they need help, any sort of help. They might even know where to find that help. But they make assumptions about the availability of that help based on external circumstances. And when they do that, they are sure not to get the help they need.

As the nine men who were close enough asked about mentoring, I pulled out my cellphone and opened my calendar. Anyone standing nearby can see that my calendar is full of red and green appointments (red for meetings, green for prayer time, and blue is near the bottom telling me to take out the trash or go to bed early!).

Five of the men who asked for mentoring took one look at my calendar and decided that I didn’t have time for them. I didn’t say that I didn’t have time – they decided that on their own. Another assumption!

My second point is that half the men who got close enough to ask assumed a negative response before they gave me a chance to respond. What is it that would cause a man to feel the need for help and then walk away without it? (Probably many things.)

The final part of my story that Sunday was that I made appointments to meet with four men. And after the first meetings, I went down to only one – and I was still meeting with that one man. So there’s the answer that Josue was looking for – ten percent complete the “training.”

I remember in the 1970s my mentor, Cecil Bean (who is still a mentor), told me that to produce one disciple-maker, I would need to find ten disciples who wanted to become a disciple-maker. He also said to produce one disciple, I would need to find ten young Christians (new believers) who wanted to become disciples. And to find one new believer, I would need to witness to at least ten non-Christians. If you do the math, to raise up one disciple-maker, I need to be investing in one hundred young Christians. Only ten percent of them will become disciples, and only one percent of them will become a disciple-maker.

The dropout rate is daunting. You invest your life in someone, hoping that they will reach the level of maturity the Bible points toward. For a plethora of reasons, they don’t. Yet we find a command to do what is so hard to accomplish; to make disciples of ALL the nations (Matthew 28:19, 20). It can be easy to throw up your hands and say, “Am least I made it into the kingdom. Maybe I’ll kick back and do something easier.”

But the question we must ask ourselves is, “What will you do that can result in Jesus saying, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into My rest.” Rest! It comes after the hard work. Work! It’s what Jesus called labor.

~

Photograph:    Nordwood Themes

Making Assumptions

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A man admirably told me how he valued all that I did in the lives of other men. Then he said, “I could never do what you do.” I immediately thought, “Yes, you could. You just don’t.” Thankfully, I held my tongue. Because I was wrong.

As I allowed the conversation to casually progress, we agreed to meet for a meal a few days later. After a little more casual talk, my friend began to open up about what was going on in his life. I was so wrong to assume he “just didn’t” invest in others.

I learned that his marriage as on the rocks; and had been on the rocks since it began. He learned during the engagement period that secrets were being held, but he thought that he could work through those indiscretions and see a thriving marriage blossom.

This post isn’t about the catastrophe that my friend is going through. It’s about me making immediate assumptions when I hear something that I think I know more about than I do. And truthfully, we all make these kinds of judgments (technically, you could probably call them “pre-judgments” or prejudices).

I wholeheartedly believe that every man “should” be making disciples. Every woman should, too. It’s a clear command of Jesus found in Matthew 28:19, 20. But as my long-gone friend, Leroy Eims, used to say, “There are people who don’t make disciples, and they don’t because of a few common conditions.

Leroy would first point out that little children cannot reproduce. We have to grow to a certain level of maturity before we can begin to reproduce. A second reason is a failure to be “with” someone. Just like we can’t have a child without having another person’s involvement, we also can’t make a disciple if we’re not anywhere near a young believer who wants to grow.

A third reason someone does not make disciples is infirmity. That’s some type of illness that prevents a person from reproducing. In the spiritual life, that equates to sin. My friend above fits into this category – not because of his infirmity, but because of someone else’s.

Sometimes a family member is so sick that a spouse must serve as a caregiver. Being a nurse by training, I am well aware of hundreds of people who can’t leave their home without arranging some type of qualified replacement to care for a loved one.

But more accurately for my friend, sometimes the sin of a family member may “disqualify” someone from ministry – and making disciples IS ministry. The Apostle Paul lists some qualifications of a deacon and elder, which includes being the husband of one wife and having their children under control (1 Timothy 3).

There are times when problems in the home should “override” the Great Commission. Granted, we may expect these problems to be temporary and afterward to be able to begin making disciples again. But, in my opinion, as long as there is discord in the home, it is best to focus on making the home righteous, even at the cost of making disciples.

There are situations when someone may not make disciples. For the reasons given by Leroy Eims, the solution is simple: mature, get close, or get well. But in the case of my friend, he probably can’t do this on his own. So I turn to determine how to come alongside him, in prayer, edification, and encouragement.

What I shouldn’t do is hold him to s standard that he can’t meet. Instead, I walk with him in the struggle and pray that God makes the rough places smooth (Isaiah 40:4).

~

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels