Seven Tasks to Disciple Men
As we begin a new year, here are some thoughts for those of us who would disciple men.
In 1656, Puritan writer Richard Baxter penned The Reformed Pastor, a classic and still-in-print book to instruct leaders how to be effectively shepherd a flock. He wanted to help pastors understand, “What does a pastor do?” and “What kind of oversight does a pastor provide for his flock?”
Baxter bequeathed us the following seven tasks. They still capture the hearts of pastors all over the world who study his book so they can become more effective at discipling and shepherding men and their families. May they inspire us too.
- First, we must labor for the conversion of the unconverted. How do you identify and witness to unconverted men at your church, work, and play? (Evangelism)
- Second, we must be ready to give advice to inquirers. “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). Are you able to share your testimony, present the gospel, and lead someone to receive Christ? What is the difference between a testimony and a gospel presentation? (Evangelism)
- Third, we must study to build up those who are truly converted. C. S. Lewis once called himself “a converted pagan living among apostate Puritans.” It is not enough to evangelize men if we don’t teach them how to live, anymore than it would be enough to give a teenager a driver’s license or a rifle if we didn’t teach him how to drive or shoot. Are you keeping yourself spiritually fit so you can disciple men how to do life? (Personal study)
- Fourth, we must have a special eye upon families to see that they are well ordered and the duties of each relation performed. Does your philosophy of ministry include building families? How does discipling men fit into raising up Godly families? (Godly families)
- The fifth thing Baxter mentions is to be diligent in visiting the sick. We should help them prepare for either a fruitful life, or a happy death. Do you have a heart for the sick, and a system to remember them? (Physical or other illness)
- Sixth, we must reprove and admonish those who live offensively or impenitently. Do you have a gracious way to hold men accountable to live up to their calling in Christ? (Accountability)
- The seventh task is to be consistent in the exercise of church discipline. Is your leadership protecting the purity of Christ’s church by administering church discipline? As Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
Can any of these seven tasks help you better focus your ministry this year?
For the glory of Christ and no other reason…