Like most people, I make New Year’s resolutions, but I have a unique focus with some of my goals. I want to want what God wants, and God wants more and more disciples of Jesus in the new year.
A disciple is a person who is following Jesus, being formed by Jesus, and committed to the kingdom mission of Jesus (Mt. 4:19). That is God’s kingdom vision, the reason Jesus came, and the underlying message of the New Testament. It is so much more than just being saved. And it will lead more people to do more good than any other single focus.
So, I am committed to personally making disciples in the new year. If you want to join with me, I hope you will find the following 5 resolutions to be helpful.
#1 Seek First to be a True Disciple.
Faith is not only believing in God, but also earnestly seeking him (Hebrews 11:6). I want to pursue Jesus and become more and more like him. The more I do that, the more I am drawn to what he focused upon. It is a simple place to start: I must first be what I want others to be. Who I am will speak louder than any of my words. Start by committing to seek God by becoming more and more like Jesus in the new year.
#2 Pray Earnestly.
In my zeal to love people and help them to be disciples of Jesus, I have too often committed to disciple people simply because I liked them or because I thought it would be cool to influence them. That has rarely worked out well for me. I now earnestly pray for God to lead me to those I will disciple. That is what Jesus did. He spent the first nine to twelve months of his public ministry with a large group of disciples. He had time to watch and observe them, then he spent the night in prayer. Only after that, did he choose 12 men to be his close disciples (Luke 6:12-16). Before committing to disciple someone, pray earnestly for God’s direction.
#3 Make it Relational.
Jesus’ style of disciple making is highly relational. It is committing to a relationship so that you can help them to trust and follow Jesus more deeply. Relationships are costly. Yet it is in the safety of close relationships where people share the real stuff of their lives—the places where they truly need help trusting and following Jesus. Relationships are the place of real impact. Make it about relationships, make it about love. Make the commitment of time, vulnerability, effort, and heart to develop true life-on-life relationships in the new year.
#4 Embrace Intentionality.
In the disciple making training I often ask people if Jesus was intentionally organic or organically intentional? It is a good question, because it forces us to realize, as we look at Jesus, that he was both organic (relational) and intentional. And once we admit to that, we can see what is typically the biggest shortcoming in disciple making: intentionality. As a disciple maker, I am teaching, guiding, and coaching people. I know where God wants them to go and I am consciously and deliberately guiding them. Intentionality is what separates really effective disciple makers from less effective disciple makers. Make a commitment to learn how to be intentional.
#5 Get Good Material.
This last point is simple, but important. It is where most pastors/ministers fail. Disciple makers need good, usable, and reproducible material. It can be an easy-to-use Bible-study method (like the Discovery Bible Study), a series of written studies (like a catechism), or even a systematic Bible study. But it needs to be clear and easy to use. This tool turns disciple making from a nebulous exercise of good will into a repeatable process. It provides a path on which disciples can, in turn, replicate the process with other disciples. Make sure that you get and use good material.
We can sum up the 5 resolutions with some words often quoted by Winston Churchill. “Continuous effort,” he said, “not strength or intelligence—is the key to unlocking our potential.” May you see God use your continuous efforts in disciple making to develop your potential in the new year. They are the best resolutions you can make.
Founder and Executive Director, Discipleship.org
To learn more about becoming a disciple maker, read Bobby Harrington and Josh Patrick’s book, The Disciple Maker’s Handbook.