By Bevin Ginder
God has unfulfilled dreams for planet earth, an overarching vision to restore everything that was lost and broken at the beginning of the story. Therefore, our visions as leaders who love God must be rooted in His vision. Our leadership end goals must be informed by God’s end goal of “every nation, tribe, people and language” worshipping before the Lamb (Rev 7:9). Regardless of what sphere of society we work in the context is God’s mission to win back His world. This is the larger story of our leadership journeys.
Motivation for Discipleship and God’s End Goal
If God’s end game is revealed in Revelation 7:9, what are the means of getting to that point in the story? God makes the means very clear. Matthew 28:18,19 names two means (or tactics) for accomplishing God’s end goal of reaching every nation. We are to baptize disciples and then teach those disciples to obey everything that Jesus commanded. The means for partnering with God in His mission is discipleship.
Today there a dizzying amount of different types of work and ministries that leaders can choose to engage with. Many might think that the activities of baptizing and teaching disciples are just two options among many equally valid options. But actually baptizing and teaching disciples can and should be integrated into every other type of ministry and vocation. Discipleship can happen anywhere. There are many good and important things leaders can and should be doing but they must never be disconnected from the mandate to disciple. Discipleship is the main means God has designated to move the story forward toward His end goal (Rev 7:9).
What is Your Primary Motivation – Being a Disciple or a Leader?
There is an overwhelming amount of content being produced on the topic of leadership from a Christian perspective. But perhaps we could agree on the bottom line that a Christian leader should first himself be a disciple of Jesus who says to his followers “Imitate me as I imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1 NIV)
As we develop the leaders around us we must remember that it is a believer’s growth as a disciple of Christ that will be the main factor that enables them to develop as leaders. It is only the Holy Spirit that can transform the human heart so if we disconnect leadership from discipleship we will most likely resort to developing leaders by equipping them with more skills. But skills alone can never take the place of a transformed heart.
What are the Marks of a Disciple?
Ok, perhaps discipleship is inseparable from Christian leadership but who is a disciple or what are the marks of a disciple? How do we evaluate whether or not we are producing disciples or just consumers of our ministry efforts? Well this question is not too tricky at all. Jesus was abundantly clear on the marks of a true disciple… very simply a disciple is one who obeys the commands of Christ. Jesus made it very clear that loving Him and obeying Him are inseparable.
If you love me, you will obey what I command (John 14:21 NIV)
Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. (John 14:21 NIV)
He who does not love me will not obey my teaching (John 14:24 NIV)
(See also John 2:3-5)
A Disciple is Motivated to Obey the Commands of Christ.
The commands of Christ include things like: repent and believe (Mark 1:15), be baptized (Matt 28:18-20), love God and your neighbor (Matt 22:37-40), pray (Matt 6:5-15), give (Matt 6:19-21 & Luke 6:38), and go (Matt 28:18-20) which is known as the Great Commission – but in the original language these words are a command.
May I highlight that Matthew 28:18-20 is not about discipleship as an end in itself but discipleship as the means to realize God’s end goal of every nation redeemed. The goal of reaching all nations is a clear theme in Jesus’ teaching (Mark 16:15) (Act 1:8) (Luke 24:45-47). It seems clear that being a disciple and doing discipleship are inextricably wrapped up together with God’s mission to reach every nation tongue and tribe. We must never separate discipleship from impacting nations.
So a Motivated Disciple Should “Go,” Right?
So does this mean that every disciple must go long-term to the least-reached? No, actually going is only one of at least six ways to partner with God on behalf on the unreached. Praying, Sending, Going, Welcoming, Learning, and Mobilizing are equally valuable roles that enable every believer/disciple to intentionally and effectively participate in completing the Great Commission.
If we are helping people in our sphere of influence not only grow as a follower of Jesus but also intentionally walk out obedience to Jesus’ command to reach all nations, then we are hitting the mark.
I Have a Dream..
Dream with me; what would it be like if every Christian leader was a disciple of Christ who was personally motivated and engaged in one or more of those six roles as an expression of obedience and love for Jesus? What if each of those leaders were then discipling a few people to not only become happy and healthy in Jesus but challenging them to find their role in completing the Great Commission/commandment? Picture what it would look like if leaders did not measure success by how much of our teaching our followers understand but rather how much of Jesus’ commands they are living/obeying?
So…. what is your primary motivation as a leader?
And how are you living that out?
“If the people who follow you just imitated you, would they accomplish the mission?” – Dave Ferguson