Discipling in our Weakness

A common reason people cite for not discipling others is that they feel inadequate - not just ill-equipped, but actually disqualified, due to sin and personal weakness. Read Pastor Eugene's article to discover that in God's hands this very insufficiency can be a powerful part of our discipling, as we acknowledge our need of God and depend on Him to bring conviction and understanding to those around us. 

What keeps us from discipling someone else? The reasons are many: I’m too busy; I haven’t got the time; I’m not a people person; I don’t feel called to do it; and so on. But often, when we scratch below the surface, there is a deeper underlying reason why we don’t disciple: we don’t feel that we’re qualified to do so.

Our sense of inadequacy might be due to a lack of equipping. We are not sure how to go about discipling someone else. In this case, we would benefit from training and hands-on experience—just some learning and practice and we should be good to go.

But for some of us, our feelings of insufficiency do not stem from a dearth of training. In fact, we probably would not consider ourselves to be 'novice' Christians. We have been a part of the church for a while and have listened to countless sermons. We have attended our fair share of discipleship seminars and Bible study groups, and have even completed several Scripture reading plans. Why, then, do we still think that we are not able to disciple someone else?

The issue is not that we need to be better equipped. It is that we think we are 'not good enough' to disciple someone else. When we look at our own lives, we see plenty of weaknesses. There is so much that we struggle with: an estranged relationship, a difficult child, a persistent sin, stress, tiredness, distraction, chronic pain and illness, a demanding job, and so on. We feel we need to 'fix' our weaknesses first before we start discipling someone else.

This is mistaken for two reasons: Firstly, our lives now will be characterised by struggle. Yes, Jesus has freed us from our slavery to sin and we are a new creation in Him. We are no longer what we once were; we are God’s children now. But we are not yet what we shall be one day in glory. If we wait till we no longer struggle before we disciple someone else, we will never get started.

Secondly, we disciple from a position of weakness, not strength. Now this goes against the grain of how we commonly think, because we typically assume that we need to 'have it all together' to disciple someone else. What’s more, our culture encourages us to show our strong points and hide our weaknesses. Worldly wisdom tells us to not reveal our struggles lest we appear weak to others.

But this is not how the Apostle Paul thought. In fact, he rejected worldly wisdom and culture by boasting of his weakness. The false teachers in Corinth made much of their own abilities and accomplishments. They relied on their own strength to gain followers. But Paul refused to play their game. Instead, he spoke of his struggles—imprisonments, beatings, shipwrecks, dangerous journeys, sleepless nights, hunger, thirst, cold and exposure—hardly the stuff of an impressive resume!

Why did Paul do this? He tells us in 2 Corinthians 12: “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” This is the reason why we disciple from a place of weakness. It is to show that “the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us” (2 Cor 4:7). When I expose my struggles, I am saying that I truly need Jesus, whose grace is sufficient and whose power is made perfect in my weakness. When we make disciples in this way, we point others to Christ, not ourselves.

Discipling others takes humility. Our pride is often the biggest obstacle to discipleship. We must stop relying on ourselves and realise that our weakness is the very place where Jesus demonstrates His power. We are inadequate, but He is sufficient. When we humble ourselves before Christ, the aroma of His grace will fill our lives and transform our struggles. And as this happens, we help others to see how wonderful our Saviour is.

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Equip yourself to disciple someone else by attending the Disciple One Another workshop this Sunday, and on Oct 8 and 15. It will be held from 11.00 am -12.30 pm in Room 310. Childcare is available for parents who would like to attend.  

Let’s also express our dependence on Christ by praying together at the monthly prayer meeting on Friday, 8-9.30pm. See you there!