Written by Dr. Larry Anderson
Thursday, 29 March 2012 00:00
Although Jesus' method to reach the world was primarily done through His discipleship of the apostles, discipleship of leaders seems to be non-existent in much of church culture today. Let me first clarify what I am speaking of when I use the term discipleship. New member's classes and other specialty classes where there is a teacher/student dynamic scheduled for one hour on Sunday is very much a form of discipleship and is alive and well in many places. However, I'm speaking of the quality time of discipleship through fellowship and the outpouring of leaders into future leaders for the perpetuation of the Gospel.
Although Jesus preached in the synagogues, this would have never been considered His primary means of discipleship. Jesus was able to use cultural, contextual, and controversial events as they arrived during the course of the day to teach, because He spent time with His future leaders. Jesus freely gave His disciples the authority to preach the message, heal the sick, raise the dead, and drive out demons because He knew this would bring glory to God. He was not concerned about the popularity or the notoriety His disciples may have received because of the wonderful acts they were performing, in fact, He anticipated it.
To contrast this wonderful picture of discipleship, we have 1 Samuel 18, where under the authority of Saul, David was enjoying much success. In fact, his success led women to begin singing and comparing David's success to Saul's in a more favorable way. The success of David angered Saul and caused him to keep a jealous eye on David from that day forward. The inability of Saul to handle the success of his disciple divided their relationship and ultimately his kingdom.
I encounter numerous church leaders on a daily basis who have not or are not being discipled. As I inquire about the reasons behind this lack of discipleship, besides the response of busyness, the consistent response has been leadership's insecurity of their success. In other words, jealousy has and is stunting the growth of many leaders in the church today. This raises a very sad question - How can one be jealous of the godliness they see in others? We are not here to promote our personal kingdoms, and increase our fan base we have been called to spread the Good News and make disciples. The more successful a disciple becomes the greater the impact for the kingdom.
God calls Himself a jealous God because He has a problem with a false god getting the love from His people that only He deserves. Unfortunately, we have some men and women mentally assuming this posture as if the applause someone under them receives is taking away from the praise they so crave which only the Lord ultimately deserves.
Larry L. Anderson Jr. is Assistant Professor of Practical Theology and the Director of the Urban Programs at Biblical. He is also the pastor of Great Commission Church, previously located in the suburb of Roslyn, PA, but now situated in the West Oak Lane community of Philadelphia to provide a holistic ministry to an urban setting.