It’s week six of our series on common excuses that hinder discipleship in your church. In case you’ve missed it, each week, we’ve been breaking down a common excuse that might be hindering your church’s discipleship goals.
In week one, we talked about how our schedules are usually the first excuse we fall back on. “I just don’t have time,” is the most common excuse we hear. But we have power and control over our schedules. We decide what we can make time for, and intentional discipleship should be one of the things we prioritize as church leaders.
During week two, we shared a more vulnerable excuse. Sometimes, the reason we hesitate to disciple someone directly and in person is because we haven’t experienced that ourselves. However, the great thing about this is that God can work through that inexperience in ways we never imagined. Your inexperience is an opportunity for you to trust God to fill the areas where you fall short.
Week three discussed the question, “Is preaching enough to sustain the discipleship of my church?” The answer is no. Jesus spent part of His time teaching and part of His time intentionally seeking out people to disciple. As church leaders, we should be doing the same.
In week four, we talked about how everyone has a personality that can make disciples. God doesn’t exclude you if you’re introverted or extroverted. He may have wired you to be gifted at preaching, leading, serving, or something else entirely. He’s still called all of us to make disciples.
Last week, we discussed other people’s perception of favoritism and how it impacts whether we choose to disciple others. We understand that some church cultures are super sensitive. Because of this, we shared some tips on how to choose who you disciple.
This week, it comes back to another very personal excuse. Fear.
I’m afraid to show people who I really am.
I believe this excuse is very real and very personal. There are many church leaders who agree that we should be personally investing time in others, but somehow find ways not to do it. Digging deeper, the fear of self-disclosure is the real culprit.
To invest in another person means that I must take my mask off and reveal myself, problems and all. It means I must live an authentic life. It means that people will see in me a true love for God, passion for the Word, and concern for those far from God, or the lack thereof.
This is why many feel much more comfortable running programs and managing ministries, because they can do that and never get too close to anyone. They can be busy, but not lay their hearts bare. They can be seen as good pastors or leaders without feeling vulnerable or exposed. To those of you who honestly struggle in this area, I want to encourage you. Hear my heart. People will never open their hearts to you until you open your heart to them.
Is it risky? Sure it is.
Jesus held nothing back and he was hurt for a time. Paul opened his heart and felt the sting of rejection and disappointment. But you will never know the joy and impact of ministry by keeping people at arm’s length. Open your heart. Live your life in authenticity. Love those in your life with a deep love. Be honest with yourself and with those in whom you are investing your life. Give yourself freely just as Christ has given himself freely to you. To this you were called.