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I’m going to go with the goers

Yesterday I wrote about why it’s hard to disciple adults. Today, I’d like to illustrate my point with an experience trying to disciple a man I’ll call “John” a few years ago.   I looked at John and loved his potential. He was a sharp business executive who openly shared his struggles with …
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
Yesterday I wrote about why it’s hard to disciple adults. Today, I’d like to illustrate my point with an experience trying to disciple a man I’ll call “John” a few years ago.
I looked at John and loved his potential. He was a sharp business executive who openly shared his struggles with pornography and divorce. He told me about how his life was going and sought my advice. We were forging a good friendship and I thought I was making a difference in his life.
But one day, he did something I disagreed with and I had a chance to see if I had any authority in his life. What John did was innocent enough: He fell in love with a woman on the west coast, but his response had severe ramifications. He decided to move there, leaving his teenage daughter in the care of his non-Christian ex wife. His daughter needed him in her life. She needed his love and stability.
I told John it was a bad idea and that he shouldn’t do it. “You have an obligation to your daughter to be there,” I said.
Unfortunately, that was the last time we communicated. He was going to do what was right for him at the time. I checked with another accountability guy in John’s life and he agreed with me. I pray for John and pray that his daughter is not wounded by the experience. I don’t think it will end well.
What did I learn? For one thing, potential by itself is not enough if a person is to grow spiritually. When rough sledding comes, most people are going to struggle to do the thing that, though right, is still very hard. Only when they have pre-committed to trust their spiritual coach can the coach exercise the authority in their lives to guide them down the path of growth.
Peter Lord calls this category of people “the goers.” When I asked Dr. Lord where he intended to focus the remainder of his life (being in his 70’s), he said, “I’m going to go with the goers.”
Now hear me right on what I’m about to say, because I believe in hanging out and I have learned that there is no short-cutting the time-intensive trust-building process. But there’s a balance we must strike. If your goal is to facilitate spiritual growth, what a time waster it is to hang out just hoping to build trust; only to discover that you have none – no trust and no authority.
Better to be more intentional in seeking goers and go with them, testing your authority in their lives, as Jesus did with his disciples, early and often. Too many of us are timid in this regard – afraid of rejection, afraid of the power and influence that Jesus asked us to wield.
As I redeem the days God has given me, I’m going to hang with guys who want to grow – I’m going to go with them.


Comments (6)

  • YES! YES! YES! Thanks for the confirmation. We have too few years left to spend much time investing in someone that pulls out the minute they hear a hard word. Just as with your “disciple”, many KNEW we loved them, proven over months or even years in close relationship. But it’s a rare one that desires real growth that requires correction at times…and….that scary word….authority.

  • …okay I’m going to say it..it is time for us to stop casting our pearls of great price to the swine who trample them under foot, instead of submitting to authority because of the great love involved, they will trample any attempt that doesn’t fit their “life.” Sadly, our life really is Christ’s to do whatever he wants. Yeah, I know my wife even says it is strong words, but it is what I have come to after many attempts to disciple, only to realize that I have cast this great pearl of Christ’s life to believers, who have swine minds. Pray for me<><

  • This post makes me think of the parable Jesus told in the Bible about a farmer throwing seeds. Sometimes the seed lands on fertile soil and the person really puts their trust in you and makes a life changing decision. But all to often the seed falls in hard soil and doesn’t have chance to grow. Or it lands in the weeds and is overtaken by the other things in a person’s life (much like John. Although we can’t forget about altogether those with harder hearts, it does make sense to focus on those who are really seeking and willing to make a change in their lives.

    thanks for the post
    Peter (Canada)

  • Mark, I’ll pray for you. This is a particularly tough thing for those who have big hearts like you do. Bless you for your commitment to love well.

  • One of my life verses:

    Prov. 6:23 For these commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light, and the CORRECTIONS of DISCIPLINE are the WAY to LIFE.

    If that is so, then the course of our lives must be marked by regular correction. It grieves me when so many Christians post a “No Trespassing” sign when we sincerely try to disciple someone toward spiritual health. For some, I’ll step past that sign, hoping they will receive direction that leads to life!

  • Two voices I hear fairly regularly:

    1) Frustrated leaders working with stiff-necked sheep.
    2) Frustrated sheep working with contolling leaders.

    Obviously, both exist in spades within the Body of Christ. I don’t know which I’m more concerned with. Both are legitimate sins. Both are legitimate problems. I’ve embodied both extremes, at times.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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