How do you…

…make a disciple?

On the face of it that might seem like a stupid question. After all we have so many resources that teach us, tell us, how to do it. I might suggest that if those books and techniques were so good the job would be producing more Christlike men and women that i see at the moment.

How did Jesus make disciples? I have read the Gospels a few times and can recollect no mention of a manual or a technique. I know he knew the scriptures but can’t remember him telling any of the disciples to study or memorise them?

I appreciate Paul was a man of tremendous learning and intelligence. Was his apostolic role different to that of those who walked with Jesus?

If I were to model my disciple-making efforts upon Jesus, what would I do, what wouldn’t I do?

If I am to be a disciple in the manner that Jesus intended, what needs to change in the way I learn from him?

Alex Ferguson on Listening

uMy experience of “Christian leaders” is that they are often extremely poor listeners. Listening is invaluable as a man or woman of God who is trying to understand people and help them to follow the path of God for their and others lives.

It would appear that Alex Ferguson holds listening in similarly high esteem. A few excerpts on the subject from his book, Leading.

If you are leading people, it helps to have a sense of who they are — the circumstances in which they were raised, the actions that will draw out the best in them, and the remarks that will cause them to be spooked. The only way to figure this out is by two underestimated activities: listening and watching…
Most people don’t use their eyes and ears affectively…
Many people cannot stop long enough to listen — especially when they become successful and all the people around them are being obsequious and pretending to hang on their every word. They launch into monologues as if they suddenly know everything. Putting these megalomaniacs to one side, it always pays to listen to others. It’s like enrolling in a continuous lifelong free education


Ferguson also offers another comment of great value to Christian leaders. When speaking of David Frost’s interviewing technique he says,

“Unlike most television presenters, David did not feel the need to prove he was smarter than his guest.”

Don’t be a preaching wimp

Personally I think we live in an ear of weak preaching, possibly this is caused by a lack of reality in the feedback preachers receive. My first wife was usually pretty straightforward (brutal) in her comments about my efforts in the pulpit so I had to listen and learn or cry myself to sleep.

Our daughter cited this comment as an example of how a wife might encourage her husband in his preaching:

As an alternative approach, here’s how Ann Phillips, grandmother of Dr Lloyd-Jones’s wife, answered the question “critic or carer?” as she supported her preacher husband Evan:

He [Phillips] laid great store by his wife’s judgment, particularly where it concerned his preaching. On one particular Saturday evening he confided in her, with great concern, that he had nothing to give to his people the next day – truly, a preacher’s nightmare. She replied that she was not sure that he ever had anything to say! … On another occasion she asked Evan to explain to her what exactly he had given the people after a morning meeting. Before he could answer, she said, “If you have not better for this evening, I would advise you to stay at home so that they can have a prayer meeting!”
– Lynette G Clark, Far Above Rubies: The Life of Bethan Lloyd-Jones

Unsung heroes and heroines

Screen-Shot-2015-09-14-at-2.22.25-PMI am reading Alex Ferguson’s book, Leading. In his introduction when talking about the similarities between football management and teaching, he states,

The best teachers are the unsung heroes and heroines of any society…

They are.

If this day you are receiving from a teacher then honour those who stand before you. If you are the teacher conduct your lesson with humility and grace always aiming to inspire your ward towards greatness.

Whatever your stage of life might I suggest that you take a moment to thank God for those teachers who have helped to mould and shape your life.

You are a billionaire…

In my preparation for preaching yesterday, I came across this illustration from Tim Keller.

Imagine you’re a billionaire, and you have three ten-dollar bills in your wallet. You get out of a cab, and you hand the driver one of the bills for an eight-dollar fare. Later in the day you look in and find out there’s only one ten-dollar bill there, and you say, “Either I dropped a ten-dollar bill somewhere, or I gave the taxi driver two bills.”
What are you going to do? Are you going to get all upset? Are you going to the police and demand they search the city for the cabdriver? No, you are going to shrug. You’re a billionaire. You lost ten dollars. So what? You are too rich to be concerned about that kind of loss.
This week, somebody criticized you. Something you bought or invested in turned out to be less valuable than you thought. Something you wanted to happen didn’t go the way you wanted it to—these are real losses. But what are you going to do, if you’re a Christian? Will this setback disrupt your contentment with life? Will you shake your fist at God? Toss and turn at night? If so, I submit that it’s because you don’t know how truly rich you are. If you’re that upset about your status with other people, if you’re constantly lashing out at people for hurting your feelings, you might call it a lack of self-control or a lack of self-esteem, and it is. But more fundamentally, you have totally lost touch with your identity. As a Christian, you’re a spiritual billionaire and you’re wringing your hands over ten dollars.

Tim Keller, The Two Advocates