I am currently taking two separate courses on disciplemaking. One is categorized as a “Master” class titled, “Practical Tools for Disciplemaking” and the other is an online training program titled, “The Disciplemaking Blueprint.” Both of these are through the Verge Network.
One of the presenters in the training program made a statement that I found quite intriguing and worth much more consideration. After he talked about how we often go about doing things in a way different than how God did and does, he made this statement: “Jesus invested in obedience, not potential.”
Potential is quite a buzz word these days. Whether in sports or business or something else, it is common to hear, “S/he has potential.” And it is that possible potential that is the reason why someone chooses to invest in a person – to hopefully see that potential potentially become reality.
But is that how Jesus did it? Did Jesus invest himself in a person on the basis of that person’s potential?
I believe a look at the gospel narrative would show that Jesus didn’t invest in a person on the basis of potential, but on the presence of obedience. Obedience to His call was the factor that caused Him to invest Himself in a person.
Think about how He called people. He said that if a person wasn’t ready to die because of following Jesus, that person was not able to be His disciple. Jesus required a total surrender to Him in real life. He required so much more than just a willingness to give up this desire or that desire in life. He required giving up the right to actually living – breathing. He required people to be ready to physically die each and every day because of and for Him.
Here is the biggest difference between obedience and potential: obedience is reality; potential is always “out there,” never to be realized until it transforms into obedience. And once that reality existed, that was when Jesus truly invested in people.
Think about it. In whom did Jesus truly invest Himself? Those who actually responded to His call to actually follow Him.
The gospel narrative does not show Jesus investing in people with potential, chasing after them, hoping that the investment would transform that potential into actual obedience. No, He did not invest in a person until that person made a decision of obedience to His call of “Follow Me.”
What is the result when potential is the deciding factor for investing? Those who would be disciple-makers get tired due to chasing after that potential when the person has no desire whatsoever to respond with obedience. But with potential being the buzz word of the day, that is exactly what happens and is expected. And, frankly, the only result is the disciple-maker getting tired and results very, very minimal.
But when obedience is the deciding factor for investing, everything is changed, because reality, not possibility, is the focal point. It isn’t that a person who has demonstrated obedience won’t disappoint, but at least that person has demonstrated obedience. And even though there will be disappointments, the fruit from investing in obedience will be much, much greater than that resulting from investing in potential.
And no chasing is necessary.