The following post was written by Jeffrey Klick (Ph.D., Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) and first appeared on his website, www.JeffKlick.com. This is one part of a multi-post article.
Every follower of Christ is called to make disciples as part of the Great Commission. God has also ordained that each person is a part of a family structure of some sort and this provides a perfect training ground to put this command into practice. Our goal is to reach as many people for Christ as possible and to help them grow to maturity in their relationship with Him. God has provided people in each of our lives that we can invest in, beginning with those closest to us. As we learn how to disciple those directly under our care, we will develop a skill set that can then be expanded to a very hurting world outside of our homes.
Most of us are aware of the dismal statistics regarding the destruction of the family via divorce and the high percentage of young people rejecting Christ shortly after they leave the home. This tidal wave of failure must be addressed or we are in great danger of losing the bulk of an entire generation. Rather than just complain about the problem we want to move into solutions and becoming proactive.
Each person has a limited amount of time, and time is a resource that can only be spent once. In Economics class in college, the instructor introduced to us the concept of “Opportunity Cost.” This professor illustrated the concept with this sentence, “The cost of a McDonald’s hamburger is not just the cost of the burger, but everything else we could have spent the money on.” This sentence also rings true with our schedule and daily decisions. We can only spend an hour once and the cost is not only what we did with the time, but everything we could have done with it. We are stewards of time as well as money and we need to consider how we spend our non-replaceable resource called “time.” What are we investing in? Discipleship should be high up on the list!
Many families are not placing as high of a priority on discipleship as they could or should. Perhaps the reason is that they feel they are doing enough by sending the children to a youth group or Sunday School class. Maybe there is a lack of understanding regarding the severity of the need and responsibility. In addition, some may lack the instruction or ideas of how to go about the process. The truth is that sending the children to a few hours of spiritual instruction a week, while helpful, is not enough to overcome the onslaught of evil and pressures of our world system. Additionally, our schedules must be reviewed to make sure that they are under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and whatever is not, needs to be removed.
What follows are multiple suggestions and ideas to help overcome their lack of knowledge or fear of how to disciple those closest to them. Not every idea will work or even need to be implemented, but almost everyone can and should do something to disciple those under their influence. Everyone is different, so a “one size fits all” approach does not work in the Kingdom of God. Below are some suggestions for each basic type of family unit. The goal is to begin the discipleship process if we have not, and if we have begun, to learn even more tools to assist in the journey of discipleship. We learn at home so we can make a greater difference as we step outside of the home.
I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. 1 Corinthians 7:32-34
Being a single adult provides the greatest freedom to serve Christ. The opportunities to travel, keep a flexible schedule, and develop a personal relationship with Jesus will open many doors for evangelism and discipleship. As a single adult, there is time to study the Word of God, listen to teachings, read, and serve without the time constraints of being married or raising children. If used properly, this period of life can provide greater opportunities for investing in others. So many single adults waste this stage of their life worrying about what they do not have (being married) instead of enjoying what they do have, an abundance of time to further the work of the Kingdom!
If you are a single adult, stop and take an inventory of the people in your life. Whom would the Lord have you invest more time in? Is there someone at work/school that is hurting or going through a difficult time? Perhaps other single friends need help or desire to grow spiritually. Would the Lord want you to consider leading a Bible or book study, prayer meeting, or beginning a service project to assist someone in need? Every situation can turn into a discipleship opportunity as you bring Christ into the time spent together with others. As you fill up your spirit with excellent teachings and your private devotional time, the Lord will provide others in your life for you to share with them what you are learning.
One group to consider investing in are those that younger than you. If you are a single adult, there are most likely younger people that look up to you. Siblings or other young people in your church or social networks often idolize the single adult, and this provides an excellent opportunity to invest in the next generation. Leading a Bible study or simply spending time with younger people can pay tremendous dividends for the Kingdom of God. To realize how important this is, just remember how you felt when your older sibling or perhaps some other older young person reached out to you. If that did not happen in your life, remember how you felt because it did not happen! You can make a difference in many people’s lives if you invest your time properly. Prayerfully consider how you could be used by the Lord in your current relationships, and then marvel at what doors open to you as you seek the Lord!
If you will prepare yourself by study, prayer, and an investment of time, God will open doors for you to serve Him in marvelous ways. A young lady named Sarah was twenty-eight when she was married. Her older sister was married at age 20 and her younger brother at 21. Sarah wondered why she had not been asked to be married, struggling with what was wrong with her. Her parents shared Paul’s exhortation recorded in 1 Corinthians 7 and she chose to invest her time in serving others while she waited for marriage. During this time, Sarah traveled to China and worked in an orphanage, taught English in a high school, and was able to share her life with many foreign students. She went to cosmetology school in order to learn a useful skill and she used this service to assist low-income families and continues to do so today. In her local church she became “Aunt Sarah” to a large number of young girls, ages 10-20 and invested her time in discipling them. Sarah could often be seen before or after a church gathering, surrounded by young girls hanging on her every word. She chose to invest herself in others rather than thinking solely about herself or what she was missing. Eventually God brought a wonderful young man that swept her off her feet and they were married. At Sarah’s wedding, she had 40 young ladies singing as a choir and there was not a dry eye in the house. Sarah used her singleness to help disciple many others and only eternity will reveal the full impact of her choice. Sarah chose wisely, and so can you if you are single… invest in others and God will grant you the desires of your heart as they align with His (Psalm 37:4).
All Scripture references are from the ESV – English Standard Version