Happy Resurrection Sunday people west of Japan! 🙂 I hope you enjoy yours as much as I did mine. I’m now back blogging after a short one day break.
Anyway, as I look at how Jesus discipled his men, he versed them in both the spiritual and the practical. For a long time, he versed them in the spiritual. He gave them the Sermon on the Mount and on the Plain. He gave them the parables and explained them. And he gave them many other teachings as well.
But now as he was sending them out into the ministry, he gave them practical instruction as well as spiritual.
Among the practical, he told them to go to the Jews, not the Gentiles or Samaritans. Why? Because the gospel was for the Jews first, as Paul mentions in Romans. The time to preach to the others had not fully come yet, although Jesus did do some ministry to the non-Jews as well.
In addition, he told them what to bring and not to bring (Matthew 10:9-10), he gave them instructions on accommodations (Matthew 10:11-13), and what to do in face of rejection and persecution (Matthew 10:14, 23). He was also fiercely practical in warning them not to trust everyone, and that they needed to be shrewd in dealing with people, while maintaining their innocence. (Matthew 10:16-17)
Among the spiritual reminders were to trust in God to provide for them and protect them, and that God loved them more than the sparrows which God cares for daily (Matthew 10:9-10; 29-31). He also reminded them that they needed to love him above all else, and that they were to take up their cross daily and follow him. That if they would try to save their life they would lose it, but if they lost it for his sake, they would gain it. (Matthew 10:37-39).
So what am I trying to say? When we disciple people to do ministry, we need to teach them both the spiritual and the practical. We of course need to teach them the spiritual principles that apply not just to their ministry but to their lives. But we also need to teach them practically how to do ministry. Jesus himself let his disciples watch how he did things and then after a while, after giving them further instructions, sent them out. And when they came back, we see that they reported to Jesus all that they had done, at which point, I’m sure Jesus gave them feedback. That’s what we should do with people we disciple in ministry.
Now this is not to say that people we train are to do carbon copies of our ministry. But we do need to teach them the basics, and then once they have that foundation down, let them build their ministry as God leads them.
The problem with many people that disciple others in the ministry is that they do one kind of training but not the other. They may give the person spiritual training but not the practical, and as a result the person falls on their face simply because they were not trained practically on what is needed to make a ministry run smoothly. On the other hand, other people focus exclusively on the practical, only to find that the person they trained falls because of pride, sin, or many of the other spiritual pitfalls ministers encounter. As a result, the “smoothly running” ministry collapses.
Let us not make that mistake as we train others in ministry. Let us be sure to teach both the spiritual and the practical. And as we do, we will see God’s kingdom grow on earth as he uses them and us.