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).