Have you ever thought you are supposed to invest in everyone who steps foot in your ministry? Have you ever felt guilty for spending more time and effort discipling some people over others? It’s easy to think that we as ministry leaders have to invest in everyone, and that leaving time and effort out of any student means we don’t care.
In truth, we are all finite. Don’t read this article title and think I’m here to tell you that we aren’t to invest in all students. But I do want you to hear how we must invest the limited time we’ve been given for maximum effectiveness. I want to share what I see as a necessary aspect of being an effective and fruitful gospel laborer: discipling with intention. I truly want anyone who reads this article to come away from it more encouraged to be faithful gospel workers with what they have been given. Therefore, I will lay out three realities we must embrace in order to answer this vital question, who do I invest my time in?
Reality #1: We only have a certain amount of time in our lives.
To say it again, we are finite. Our days are already numbered by God, and their end is coming quickly. This is the Biblical refrain when it speaks of any human being. Whether lost or saved, time is fading fast. So, the reality is that we must first answer the question, “How then do I spend my time?”
For the Christian, the gospel laborer, we must spend our days disciple-making. This is EVERY believer. There isn’t an option here when it comes to the will and purpose of God for your life. Everywhere you go, every job you do, in every relationship you have, and in every aspect of your life, you are to make disciples. It begins in the home with husbands and wives, children and family. It then expands to those closer to you: Your church, your ministry, your friends, and your neighbors.
Therefore, you must first understand how to best use the limited amount of time you have in order to make the most disciples that you can. Your time invested must reflect this reality.
Reality #2: Less is more in the realm of Kingdom discipleship.
What do I mean by this? When we see how our Lord made disciples of the Twelve, it was of a different nature than of the larger group of disciples. He chose the Twelve for His own purposes, but He also invested His time into them in very unique ways that the larger group never had. Jesus even chose three disciples to be in His innermost circle: Peter, James, and John. These three received the most investment when it came to their development as disciples, even compared to the rest of the Twelve.
Jesus made more investment in the smaller group of three rather than spreading Himself across every disciple equally. Jesus invested in the Twelve so that they could invest into others. It’s like compounding interest in regard to making disciples. What began as a relatively small group of believers at Pentecost turned into millions upon millions of believers today. This is what we desire to see.
Less was more for Jesus—it should be for us, too. Therefore, we must trust and pray that our investment of time in even a few can turn into greater things down the road."Less was more for Jesus—it should be for us, too. Therefore, we must trust and pray that our investment of time in even a few can turn into greater things down the road." -@ReeseHammond #collegiatedisciplemaker #investwisely Click To Tweet
Reality #3: Commitment to the Mission of God Matters
Knowing that our time is finite and less is more, we must prioritize investing our disciple-making in those who are most willing to commit to the mission of God. In John 7:17 we read the stark reality that,
“If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.”
This is the Lord’s declaration that there is a prerequisite to receiving, embracing, and acting upon the truth of the gospel: willingness. In my ministry, I often encounter in students a coldness and unwillingness to be truly committed to the Gospel mission. This sometimes comes from a familiarity to the things of God, especially the gospel. Many have heard the gospel, been raised in church, and have tasted and seen the things of God throughout their whole life. But unfortunately, their intentionality and passion to make disciples is often lacking.
Deciding whom to give our time to is one of the hardest things to discern in our ministry. How do I decide who to invest in? How do I make the intentional decision to invest in some and not in others? But if we are to be truly faithful and consistent with the Great Commission, we must prioritize our discipleship in those who are most willing to commit to the mission of God.
It’s hard. It seems illogical. Aren’t numbers how we make the most impact for the kingdom? I would say absolutely not. I say, and can justify from Scripture, that investing into those that are willing to do God’s will in the mission of God are the ones that we MUST be investing in the most. I believe and try to practice this reality as much as I can—and it is hard. The investment must be intentional and toward those willing to do the work.
I’ll conclude with what Robert E. Coleman has said in The Master Plan of Evangelism:
“Preaching to the masses, although necessary, will never suffice in the work of preparing leaders for evangelism. Nor can occasional prayer meetings and training classes for Christian workers do this job. Building men and women is not that easy. It requires constant personal attention, much like a father gives to his children. This is something that no organization or class can ever do. Children are not raised by proxy. The example of Jesus would teach us that it can be done only by persons staying close to those whom they seek to lead.”Robert E. Coleman
Who will you invest in?