By Eli Bayless
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
-Matthew 28:18-20 (ESV)
Disciple-making was Jesus’ final commission to His disciples before he ascended to heaven to be with the Father. If you are anything like me, it is so easy to be intimidated by the daunting nature of a job like this. Maybe you are the type of person who when there is a job to be done, you are ready to embrace any challenge. You would prefer to roll up your sleeves and complete the job. Even if you feel inadequate for the task at hand, you would just as soon struggle through and make some messes along the way, as long as it meant that the work got done, and you were faithful to complete your assignment.
I deeply admire people with this sort of enthusiasm, humility, and integrity. I would even say that for the most part, I work hard to try and be this kind of person if I can. However, the days of feeling obligated to maintain this kind of work ethic are pretty well behind us. In 2019, for a small fee, if you don’t think you have the time, resources, know-how, or qualifications for the task at hand, outsource it! I want the same results, but I can’t handle all of that right now!
We don’t need to debate whether this “outsource it” attitude is healthy or not, we only need to acknowledge that it is an option that has never before seemed quite so accessible. In many areas of our lives, the decision to outsource the completion of tasks is perfectly reasonable, or even wise. For any of you that may be familiar with the show “Home Improvement,” you know how many failures and messes might have been avoided if Tim “the tool-man” Taylor had just left the work to the professionals. However, disciple-making is not a task to be outsourced.
This call is one given to every disciple of Jesus, but I want to speak for a moment specifically to parents, especially of kids who are still living at home. I fully recognize the challenge that comes with just trying to keep kids alive, much less teaching them to follow Jesus and honor Him in their entire lives. It is so easy to feel so intimidated by the task of discipleship that the seemingly wisest and most responsible choice is to export discipleship to whomever we deem are “the professionals.” However, if we’re going to be obedient to the call that God placed onto our lives as Jesus followers, then surely disciple-making is best accomplished God’s way!
As a parent, whether literally or spiritually, it is easy to feel underqualified for the task of disciple-making. We’re not perfect; we don’t have all the answers, we don’t get it right all the time either. However, we can’t let that cause us to shrink back from the task at hand. Jesus has made us an incredible promise to be with us always, and He has gifted us His Holy Spirit to equip us for the journey. We are called to be disciple-makers; champions of the spiritual development of our families and those God entrusts to our care. It is imperative for God’s church that we not try and reinvent disciple-making and step into a role that we were never designed to play or to give up on a job that God has promised to equip us for because of a perceived lack of qualification. Instead of outsourcing our kid’s spiritual maturation to professionals, what if we chose to trust more deeply God’s promise to be with His people and equip them for the work to which He has called them! As the gathered Church, if we make our role more about Championing Parents, as those parents step into their God-given roles of championing the spiritual development of their kids, it is our young people who will reap the spiritual rewards.
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not depart from it.