It's Not Optional: Qualifications vs Diligent Obedience  

Posted by Mike Sharrow

'Had a great talk today with some passionate leaders about needs they saw for outreach, discipleship and training/development. Sparked a valuable discussion about the tension between leadership principles and Biblical principles of discipleship... prepare, measure, plan, train, steward, diligently administer gifts, and DO. Concentric circles of churchy concepts create confusion at times...but within the throws of tension lies clarity and truth radiating with life-giving power.

Leadership = influence, ability or responsibility to effect people towards a goal/objective; it's the application of beliefs, values, character, skills and knowledge towards accomplishing a desired movement of people. Romans 8:28 lists it as a gifting within the Body of Christ and something to be administered with "diligence." Outside of the church leadership is largely assigned based upon attractive qualities of exterior qualification. Biblically, it's not quite so logical...stuttering sheep herding fugitives are sent to lead a multi-million man march, fisherman are called to be travelling spokesmen, young men from single mother homes are put in leadership of frontier churches and lower class blue collar workers are sent with a small group of followers to overthrow oppressive armies. Sometimes leadership roles had qualifications (spiritual maturity, devotion, abandonment of fleshly loyalties to pursue God as first in all of life), sometimes a matter of gifting beyond natural possession for Kingdom purposes, always intended for the mission and advancement of the Kingdom of God among us.

Discipleship = following Jesus, the process of learning, understanding and obeying His Way; the activity of seeking after higher levels of following while bringing other people to join in the pursuit, life and experience. We are disciples (noun) and are all called to make disciples (verb). We're all discipled to Jesus with each other; we're called to bring along, teach, show and share the journey we are on with anyone willing to join the Way. It's commanded without prerequisite at the culminating speech by Jesus - Go, and while you're going be making disciples everywhere, baptizing them in My Name, teaching them to follow Me in everything I've shown you. There's no mention of gifting associated with fulfilling this function of the Kingdom. It's a universal aspect of Kingdom citizenship: you disciple as you're discipled.

You train leaders and deploy them as they are "ready." Discipleship is a messy-don't-wait-until-it's-baked-get-telling-them-about-Me-now thing. It's desperately necessary, excruciatingly missing in so many parts of the Church (world-wide), rapturously consuming and unstoppably transformational. It's not the cosmic multi-level marketing scheme from On High - it's a flat org chart: there's God then there's us. When it works it's even flatter: it's us IN Him!

The main points that left this discussion:

(1) Discipleship is not an option, a specialization of Christians to be outsourced - it's something we all must do

(2) You can't wait to start...if you know Jesus, then you can start discipling. Your limitation as a disciple-maker is only your discipleship in Christ and with His Body.

(3) Leadership brings responsibility, and where it lacks it must be pursued, grown, refined and advanced.

(4) Act now. Be a disciple, go make disciples and if you're gifted to, called to, required to, unavoidably leading then for the sake of everyone do it diligently to the glory of God!

You can be a good leader and a lousy disciple. You can't be a disciple without discipling and leading by the very definition...because to be a disciple is to obey and follow, which means to grow and influence others to also follow Jesus (which makes you a covert leader).

This entry was posted at Thursday, July 31, 2008 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

1 thoughts and responses


Great thoughts! We are all natural born leaders and disciplers. The question is, "Where are we leading and what are we discipling"?

This can be easily seen in the children we raise. It's our choice to make a conscious decision who we will follow and in turn lead.

August 1, 2008 at 6:23 AM

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