Build Disciples not Dependents

In the famous Great Commission verse, Jesus challenges his followers to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). In its simplest definition, a disciple is a follower of Jesus. So how do we go about making disciples like Jesus asked us?

One way is to follow Paul’s advice in 1 Corinthians 11:1 which says, “And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.” This verse comes right after 1 Corinthians 10 where Paul talks about how to decide whether to eat meat offered to idols or not. Notice he doesn’t say whether people should or shouldn’t but rather he gives guidelines about how to make good decisions.

"Encouraging builds disciples, telling builds dependents."

We don’t really have the option to eat meat sacrificed to idols in our society, but we do have plenty of other decisions to make that may be questionable to some people. Encouraging people to make their own decisions is a great way to make disciples, not dependents.

Disciples look to God to guide their conscience within the parameters of God’s Word.

Dependents expect someone else to tell them what to do.

It can feel right to want to decide for someone what they should do, but we risk stunting their growth when we step in between them and God. We are not talking about clear moral decisions here, but about areas where people need to make their own choices. Some examples would be:

  • What to do with their future
  • Who to date
  • Whether or not to stay or move along in a job situation
  • Where to live

Maybe these are obvious examples but what about when people are dealing with issues where you want to tell them what to do like:

  • How to raise their children
  • How to have good quiet time with God
  • How to deal with hurt or anger

If we take on the responsibility of being the “go to” person we risk stepping in between a person and their relationship with God. We create dependents.

What if we asked questions instead and led people to encounters with God? Questions show our belief in the Holy Spirit to guide people toward what is right. They sound like, “What do you think you should do?”; “What are your options?”; “How will you decide?”

When we decide for someone, it can come across as judgy which is usually repelling. When we ask questions, we believe the person can hear from God, and we encourage them to build their relationship with him. Galatians 6:5 says, “For we are each responsible for our own conduct.”

Next time you are having a faith conversation with someone ask yourself if you are encouraging them to connect with God or telling them what you think they should do.

Encouraging builds disciples, telling builds dependents.

~ Cindy



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