At different junctures in my life, I have felt a great burden that I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready to get engaged, get married, have a child, get a job, lead a this, or start a that. Ill-equipped and ill-timed, I never felt prepared for just about anything.
- I needed more classes.
- I needed more opportunities.
- I needed more affirmation.
But at some point, you just have to step out in faith and get to work.
What would have happened if Jesus waited around until the disciples were “ready” by our standards?
While Jesus performed great tasks on his own, he never desired for Christianity to demise after his departure. Due to this fact, Jesus spent an enormous amount of time equipping his disciples to continue his work once he was gone. Amazingly, while most leaders would thrive in crowd settings and never desire to lose momentum, Jesus often withdrew from the crowds in order to maintain communion with God and/or further equip his disciples.
Jesus’ earnest desire was to disciple the men who would carry on once he left and to share the current responsibilities with them.
Jesus believed in these disciples and the indwelling Spirit so much that he proclaimed that they would perform greater deeds than Jesus (John 16:7). Jesus understood that his leadership would be ultimately multiplied through his efforts at investing in and empowering the disciples to lead.
While he witnessed the frequent failures of his disciples, Jesus found great reward through also experiencing their successes. Since a true leader commits himself or herself to equip those around him or her, Jesus sought to develop the disciples as fully as possible during his time with them since they were a gift to him from his Father (John 17:6). Since Jesus lived with these men in whom he invested, he experienced a constant freshness in ministry.
Due to this close proximity of his followers, Jesus modeled that a leader will stay spiritually alert if he or she stays close to one’s followers since leaders cannot expect a level of holiness or commitment from followers that the followers do not perceive already in the leader.
As the disciples personally saw how Jesus lived and led, Jesus waited for the appropriate time to engage them in ministry themselves. Knowing their potential, Jesus was actively developing them to become fishers of men (Matt 4:19).
When Jesus felt like that the disciples had served as spectators long enough, he thrust them into service.
He sent the disciples out in twos first (Matt 10), and then later sent out seventy-two of his disciples into ministry (Luke 10). While Jesus heard reports of their failures (Matt 17:16), these ministry settings proved to be training grounds for their continuing ministerial education. These experiences caused the desperate disciples to seek Jesus’ wisdom concerning how to conduct ministry like he did (Luke 11:1).
Who Is “Ready?”
If you are waiting until you feel ready, you may never get there.
- If you don’t feel ready for ministry, you are in good company.
- If you don’t feel like someone waiting in the wings is ready, consider if you would have met your own standards in those early years.
If we want to see discipleship spread all over the world, we better start prioritizing it where we are.
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.