When the topic of discipleship comes up one of the most common questions I hear is, “How do I disciple someone?” There’s an endless list of excellent books and resources discussing this question. There are programs in churches and para-church organizations that are making a huge impact on raising the value of discipleship. I am a huge advocate for growing in application and understanding of discipleship, and encourage women regularly to be better equipped. The application of discipleship is important, but the heart of discipleship is infinitely more important.
But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd
Jesus put on flesh to be the physical representation of God Himself. Jesus made tangible the love God has for His people and His desire to meet them in their need and brokenness. Matthew 9:36 gives us a picture of the heart behind Jesus meeting the needs of people. He didn’t just experience compassion, but it moved him. Seeing them as lost sheep without a shepherd led to action to meet those needs. The pinnacle of this is His death on the cross, and His sacrifice for our greatest need of forgiveness for sin and rebellion against God.
Compassion was the motivator for His ministry to the twelve disciples as well. He dedicated most of His ministry to these men, teaching them and serving them, patiently explaining each parable and teachings they didn’t understand. He was investing in their spiritual health for a greater purpose. Jesus led and served these men and modeled discipleship for the sake of the multitudes. When He invited them to follow Him, He told them that He would make them fishers of men. He was calling them to be driven, not by methods, but by compassion for lost sheep in need of the Shepherd, Jesus Himself.
Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”
The invitation and call to be laborers in the Lord’s harvest was for the disciples then, and is the call for us as disciples today. Knowing the need we all have for a Shepherd, and a Savior and seeing it go unfulfilled for so many should move us to compassion. We don’t disciple to make people better, we disciple them because they have a need that only Jesus can satisfy. Is our motivation for discipleship a love for people, because of our love for God and whom He loves? If our discipleship is not operating from a heart of compassion and love then it is empty duty.
The heart of discipleship never changes, though many different methods may be applied. Jesus came to seek and save the lost, and He has commissioned us to go to all nations with His heart of compassion to point lost and weary sheep to their Shepherd. He is only one that can satisfy the needs of their heart.
We are so excited to be offering our Equipped to Disciple: Woman to Woman program again this year! If you are interested in learning more about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ and are a woman, we urge you to attend one of our upcoming information meetings. We will be hosting 2 meetings: July 29th at 9am and August 12th at 10:30am. To register for the discipleship program, you must have attended an info meeting.