The desire to disciple
In 2018 our congregation offered an evangelism course called ‘Fishers of Men’. The class was every Tuesday night from 6-8:30 for 10 weeks. The class would teach bible study methods and students would be required to use those methods to teach at least 10 bible studies to graduate. At the time the class was offered I worked a job that was only 20 minutes from the building and I got off at 4 PM. Dinner was provided and both my parents had already signed up. However, with all of these positive circumstances,I ran in the other direction. In 2019 the same class was offered. By this time I had a new job that was an hour away from the church building and I did not get off until 5:30. This time I signed up. I told the teacher and my boss the situation and I made it work. I was a little late each week but I made sure to get the material from my classmates and I graduated with all of the required bible studies completed. I learned so much and gained so much confidence and I thanked God for it. You see,the difference was not the opportunity, the difference was MY DESIRE.
Evangelism has always been a huge topic at our congregation but especially in the last 5 years. I would sit in the pews and think I was doing enough by living my christian life in front of my non christian friends. I thought my example was enough and I was not willing to take it a step further. All of those things are important but are you willing and ready to tell them the ‘why’? Why I live the life I live is all because of Christ and we have to be ready to share that.
This is not an article about evangelism, it is an article about DESIRE. The ‘want to’ behind the actual teaching. This is about setting your heart to be zealous to teach the word. One verse that always comes to my mind when we are talking about desires is 2 Chronicles 12:14. It reads,
“ And he did evil, because he did not prepare his heart to seek the Lord.”
This passage is speaking of King Rehoboam but we can really replace ‘he’ with our own name. If we do not prepare our hearts to seek the Lord we will do evil and get caught up in a world of sin. God’s desire is that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). If that is the desire of God, it should also be our desire.
So how can we change our desire to have a heart to seek the Lord and spread the borders of his kingdom? Everyone is on their own journey but here are a few things that may help.
Evaluate your ‘why not’ and find your ‘why’. In a workplace it was suggested that workers keep their ‘why’ visible on their desk. For some people that is a picture of a dream car or house. For some it’s a vacation spot or a photo of a loved one. For me it was a bible verse , Colossians 3:23-24, and photos of my family and of Dean and I on vacations. When times got tough I looked at my 'why’ to push through. I often remember my ‘why’ for discipleship when it seems no one wants to listen. Remember this is not an article about evangelism, it is about desire. My ‘why’ behind my desire is simple, hell was not made for us. (Matthew 25:41) The topic of hell is a scary one, and for good reason, it is a place of eternal torment (Matthew 13:50,Revelation 14:10). When I think about hell and the fact that so many people are headed there and don’t even know it, my desire is to help them if I can. So, as we evaluate our desires we have to think about our ‘why not’. Why do I not want to disciple? We may be fearful, we may feel that we are not knowledgeable enough, we may feel that no one will listen anyway so why bother. Once we figure out the ‘why not’ then we can make a plan to change a ‘why not’ into a why.
Fake it til you make it. This may sound crazy and maybe a little controversial but going through the motions may help our desires. As a college athlete there were many times where I simply did not want to be at practice. I had a million things on my mind and I had no desire to be there. My coaches were big on enthusiasm, they wanted the gym to be loud with teammates encouraging one another, lots of talking on the court and clapping after great plays. In order to help my team and be a leader on the court I would have to fake it. I would make myself be enthusiastic even when I did not feel like it . When I did this repeatedly I noticed the practice would go by faster and I would find myself enjoying the game again. Sometimes going through the motions of evangelism can spark our zeal. Now , we have to be careful not to get stuck in this mode, it is not meant to be this way continuously. However, sometimes forcing ourselves to do something even when we don’t want to is the only way to change our mindset.
Reflect on your journey. Both of my parents are Christians and I grew up in the church but it is not that way for many Christians, including my husband. I am extremely blessed that I have had the luxury of sound teaching throughout my life and reflecting on all of my bible school teachers and other mentors in the church making sure I was grounded in the word compels me to pay it forward. Here are some reflection question to jump start your desire, if every Christian's desire to disciple was equal to yours, where would the church be? Thinking about the person who shared the gospel with you, including your parents, if you are like me, what if they had your desire level, would you be a christian? There is a time for everything, (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8) there is time to go easy on yourself and not beat yourself up. We do serve a loving and forgiving God. (Isaiah 1:18). But, there is also a time for some self tough love, we need to look inward and be serious about the desires of our hearts. ( 2 Corinthians 13:5)
I am doing all I can each day to truly have a desire to disciple. I forced myself to take the class because I wanted to be on fire for the Lord. All it takes is a spark to light a fire. Once the desire is there the excuses will fade out of the way so we can truly be pleasing to God.