By Pastor Nathan Richardson Heartland Community Church
Disciples are Connectors
Children are great. They have a sense of awe and wonder that is usually lost by the time one hits 30. One thing is not lost is everyone wants to be known and to be loved. This can lead us to doing some pretty crazy things to feel connected to others.
There is a story in Luke 2:41-52 that tells about when Jesus was 12 years old. He was in Jerusalem celebrating Passover with his parents. When the time came everybody packed up and started the trip back home, every one except Jesus. They were traveling with other friends and family and his parents assumed that Jesus was with them. After traveling for a day they realized Jesus was not. So they turned around and headed back to Jerusalem. When they arrived they looked for him for another day. This meant they had been separated for 3 days. They eventually found him at the temple. He was “sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.
As someone new to the faith we must be willing to ask questions and listen. As someone who might be mentoring someone new in faith, you must also be willing to sit, listen and ask questions. There is no better way to connect with someone than actually hearing one’s story. Remember everyone wants to be known and be loved. People whom live this way I call connectors. They have this way of being able to connect with anyone because they spend more time listening than talking.
The first thing his parents say to him when they find him is, “why have you treated us like this? We have been looking for you.” Did I miss something here or is Jesus being blamed for being left in Jerusalem. He is 12 years old. Granted he is Jesus. But is it not his parent’s responsibility to know where he is?
It continues to say Jesus “grew in wisdom, and stature and in favor with God and man.” I love even as a perfect human being Jesus still grew in wisdom. But the last part of this really sticks out to me. It is important for us to have favor with God and man. It shows that we are living lives of faith, integrity and character.
Connectors need to establish ongoing relationships. In order for this to happen you must have character and integrity and be intentional about pursuing friendship. Every relationship does look different though. Jesus loves everybody but had different relationships with others. He preached to thousands, he ate with dunks and gluttons, but he only discipled 12, even focusing more on 3. We can learn a lot from Jesus about mentoring. If we mentored 3 people for a year with the intention that those 3 would each choose 3 people to mentor and so on. This process is called multiplication and within 5 years you would have indirectly impacted 243 people.
Mentoring with follow through would really have a difference within our community. The best mentors have an impact that will live on forever. Just look at the story of Jesus. In 3 years of mentoring 12 people he would create a movement that has an estimated billion followers today. How does 12 Disciples become a billion? When Jesus asked the disciples to leave everything and follow him he was looking for more than a fan. He was looking to be followed. He was not looking for acceptance but for a disciple.
One who accepts Jesus versus one who follows is the difference between a cultural Christian and a biblical disciple. A cultural Christian might go to church out of duty or respect. They might know what the Bible says but in the end their life was not impacted or did not change the way they lived. A cultural Christian will never impact anyone else because their own life was not impacted.
A biblical disciple however knows and obeys God’s word. Not out of duty but out of love. A biblical disciple is not perfect but their life has been completely transformed because of the impact of Jesus on their life. A biblical disciple has replaced what the world has told him for what Jesus tells him. A biblical disciple will change the world because God changed their life. May God continue to change each one of us as we continue in the faith.