Is discipleship merely “worth it”?
We’ve added children to our family through two different avenues. We’ve given birth and we’ve adopted.
If you asked me to pick my preferred method, I honestly couldn’t. There were extremely hard and amazingly beautiful aspects of both.
On a Saturday night my wife started feeling the contractions.
Most TV shows and movies show the process to be around two to five minutes, so I safely assumed we would have our daughter in our arms by the next morning.
Thirty-six hours later the doctor told us her head was turned the wrong way and he would need to do a C-section to deliver her (which would have been nice to know 36 hours before).
They informed us that my wife would need to be put to sleep (or whatever the medical term is for that). Because of this, when my daughter was delivered, it was just me and my girl.
Now, understandably, I was exhausted after watching my wife go through that much labor (I never get sympathy for that) so I wanted to sleep. However, I had seen too many Lifetime movies and TV shows about babies getting stolen in hospitals, so I decided to put my precious daughter in the bassinet in the corner of the room and create a barricade of chairs for me to place my feet on while I slept. The plan was to immediately wake up and fight if anyone disturbed the barricade. Needless to say, I was out of my element.
We started our adoption when our daughter was ten months old.
After a while, we stopped counting the number of forms we had to sign and the number of times we had to get documents notarized because it got ridiculous.
We didn’t just need to have forms notarized, but all the notarized forms had to be certified. The only place for us to get that done was over two hours away from our house and if the forms weren’t notarized with the newest “official” wording, I had to drive back to get everything redone. That happened twice.
After three years of waiting we received a referral for two boys. After another year of jumping through government mandated hoops, we were finally cleared to fly out and adopt them. Then we had to wait for yet another month to take them home. To see a picture of our boys click here.
Since growing our family, we have experienced a lot of challenge and change.
Our house is louder, there are more emotions (mainly from me) and there are more arguments between everyone. We are fighting to maintain sanity while we labor to train them in the Lord.
Without a doubt, this is the hardest thing we’ve ever done in our lives, but when we watch our daughter sing about the grace of God at the top of her lungs, “worth it” seems like too trite a phrase.
The closest thing I can compare this experience to is making disciples.
Paul compares this process to child rearing and stresses that it’s not just information but our very lives that are being shared.
If you commit to a lifestyle of making disciples, you will commit to walking with people in joyful seasons and some of the darkest seasons of their lives.
You will laugh with them, but you will also weep with them.
You will have to make sacrifices and not just pour into them, but pour your life out for their sake.
A student I discipled named Adam once shared with me one of the most encouraging things I’ve ever heard. He said, “Brian, I’ve had many spiritual tutors, but only one spiritual father and that’s you.”
Every Father’s day I get texts from people I’ve invested in thanking me for being a spiritual father to them.
The process is never easy. It’s a slow, hard process, like raising children. But to say it’s “worth it” really doesn’t describe how amazing it is to help shape others spiritually.
Howard Hendrix was a professor who gave his life to making disciples. When he died in 2013 I came across this quote from him as he reflected on his life.
I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a fulfilled human being, but you are looking at one, and I want you to know that if I died today and if you feel honored enough to come to the funeral, don’t feel sorry for me. In the first place, I’ll never be more alive than I am, and in the second place, it will be guys like you, all over the world, all over the United States, who will say, “You changed the whole course of my life.” You want fulfillment? You have not experienced it until you have changed the life of another person. That’s the name of the game.
Just like parenting, you won’t always get it right. It will be hard. At times, the tears will flow. But at the end, you won’t regret it.
Let nothing move you from this because in the Lord, your labor is not in vain.
Making disciples for the sake of God’s kingdom is the most fulfilling thing you can possibly do in this life. It’s God’s joyful call to every believer.
I wish I had words to describe it because “worth it” just doesn’t do it justice.
As you’ve tried to invest in people, what are some of the hardest times you’ve had to work through?
What are some of the greatest joys you’ve experienced in making disciples?
How can you thank someone who has invested in you?
What do you need to do to continue to commit to the slow, hard process of making disciples?