Count the Cost: 4 Sacrifices of a Disciple Maker
You’ve read Jesus’ words to go and make disciples but may be asking, “Am I called to that? Am I qualified? Where do I start?” We have the answers for you. Before you begin, however, you also need to know the costs of being a disciple maker.
By Brett Clemmer
President & CEO
If you are a follower of Christ (and reading this blog), you know we are supposed to make disciples. It’s right there at the end of Matthew and a theme throughout the entire New Testament. But a lot of guys are bewildered or intimidated by the idea.
What does it take to be a disciple maker?
Are You Qualified?
Do you want to follow Jesus and help another guy follow him, too? Then you are qualified.
A disciple maker isn’t limited to the office of a pastor or elder or teacher. It’s also being a brother in Christ, or perhaps even a spiritual father.
Many Christians disqualify themselves from being a disciple maker for the wrong reasons. “I don’t know enough.” “I’m not mature in my faith.” “I still have too much sin in my life.” “I’m not even sure what I believe on certain issues.”
Christian, these are not disqualifiers. In fact, being self-aware and honest enough to admit these kinds of things is super helpful when it comes to helping another man grow in his faith.
But there is one requirement that can’t be circumvented.
The #1 Requirement
When Jesus talked to the disciples about how they were to live together, he gave us the first and most important clue about what it takes: love.
“This is how they will know that you are my disciples,” Jesus says, “if you love one another” (Jn 13:35). Later in John he says, “Love one another as I have loved you” (15:12).
As I have loved you. We know how that turns out.
Brothers, love ain’t easy. Love hurts. Love is messy and frustrating. It leaves you vulnerable to heartbreak and pain. And that’s before you get to 1 Corinthians 13 with its impossible description of love’s qualities.
It’s important to recognize the costs of loving a brother as a fellow disciple, because love goes hand in hand with sacrifice. It’s a package deal that requires commitment if you want to be a man who disciples others.
4 Costs of Being a Disciple Maker
Want to be a disciple maker? It comes at a price, as all valuable things do.
Here are some of the sacrifices of a disciple maker.
1) It will cost you influence—moving from wide to deep.
Being a disciple maker is not about posting Bible verses on your Facebook page, or pictures from a mission trip on your Instagram. In fact, most disciple making isn’t something anyone will know about at all, except for the man whose life you’re investing in.
To be a disciple maker you have to be willing to forsake the broad influence our culture values so much and go deep with just another guy or two.
While society—including the Christian pop culture—holds up the preacher, author, Christian athlete, or movie star for praise and honor, the fact is, those people (even the preacher) don’t always make a deep, prolonged impact in a person’s life. A brother who comes alongside him and disciples him does.
Are you willing to work out of the limelight, protecting a brother’s privacy and dignity as you struggle through trials and questions together? Your influence will be greater, though less visible. The effect will be long-lasting and life-changing, but likely known only to God and few others.
2) It will cost you certainty—embracing difficulty and avoiding easy answers.
As you disciple a man, you will have to deal with questions that you don’t know the answer to: Why did I lose my job? Why does my wife have cancer? Why can’t I get my dad’s approval? Why do I keep losing my temper?
Sometimes the questions may be more meta: Why is there war and famine? Why do bad people prosper? What am I here for?
And, particularly with younger guys, they may strike at the foundations of faith: How could God create the world in six days? Wasn’t there another way for God to reconcile humans with himself without his own son dying? How did Noah get all those animals in the ark?
Men don’t want or need simple answers to complex problems. Giving canned or pithy answers to heart-level questions is unhelpful at best, and often harmful. When you’re uncertain, the best answer you can give is, “I don’t know. But I’m here to walk through it with you.”
Refusing to even consider a hard, spiritual question with openness won’t draw a man closer to Christ. In humility, we can admit that some questions are really hard to answer. Doubt and mystery are not opposed to faith; they are a necessary part of it.Doubt and mystery are not opposed to faith; they are a necessary part of it.Click To Tweet
3) It will cost you your definition of family—embracing new brothers and sons.
If you are looking at the disciple making relationship as a professor and student, or a preacher and parishioner, you’ve got it all wrong.
Men don’t need more knowledge and correction. They need love and direction.
The disciple making relationship they need is a spiritual father or spiritual brother, depending on your different maturity levels in the faith.
But don’t miss this: this is family. If you decide to add a son to your family, that requires you to include them in your family. If you have a spiritual brother, their wellbeing is as important to you as your own.Men don’t need more knowledge and correction. They need love and direction. Click To Tweet
If you’re married, this is a conversation you need to have with your wife. If you are going to invest in another man’s life as a disciple maker, you’re going to be around him a lot. That means that they will likely be around your family a lot. Make sure your wife is counting the cost as well as you invest in another man’s life.
And this brings us to the big one.
4) It will cost you time—constantly seeking ways to be physically present.
When I was bringing up my (now adult) kids, a wise mentor told me that there was no such thing as “quality time” if the quantity is not there. It’s about quantity. You can’t divebomb into your kids’ lives for an hour a week—no matter what the level of activity—and expect to really impact their lives.
It is the same when you decide to be a spiritual father or brother. You need to spend as much time together as possible. Sure, you might support the relationship with texts and phone calls. But the greatest impact is made shoulder to shoulder in shared activity or conversation.
When Jesus says in Matthew 28, “Go and make disciples,” the Greek is actually, “As you are going, make disciples.” Discipleship happens as you are going about everyday life.
As you are going about your life, do it in relationship with other guys so that you are making—and becoming—a disciple.
You may spend time together in a weekly small group, but the real impact comes in the conversations during the week afterward as you are having coffee or helping on a home improvement project.
One of the most intentional disciple makers I know recently shared with me that he has a few guys that whenever he is doing anything that one of them could do with him—work projects, errands, etc.—he calls and sees if one of them will do it with him. He double dates with a guy and his wife as often as possible. He knows what’s going on in their lives so he shows up when they have a project. He even built an outdoor lounge area at home to always have a place whenever a guy needs to talk.
The cost of time—and in some ways autonomy—is the most important sacrifice you can make.As you are going about your life, do it in relationship with other guys so that you are making—and becoming—a disciple. Click To Tweet
Putting It into Action
If you want to be a disciple maker, here are some steps you can take:
- Pray for God to open your heart up, allow you to be vulnerable and honest, and show you who you should start investing time in.
- Count the cost. Take some time and journal about what you would need to sacrifice to develop a deep discipleship relationship with another guy or two.
- Talk to your wife if you’re married. Make sure she understands your desire to impact another man’s life deeply. By the way, these principles apply to her as well. If you can find a couple that would like this kind of relationship, that’s even better!
- Look for opportunities. What guys are drawn to you at church, at work, or in your neighborhood? How and when could you spend more time with them? Learn about their families, work, and history. You don’t need to force or rush the spiritual conversations; they will come naturally over time.
- Look for someone to disciple you. Having a spiritual father or big brother yourself will give you someone who can advise and support you as you come against challenges you didn’t expect.
The truth? It’s uncomfortable be a disciple maker. As my colleague said to me, “This list is a gut check for whether I’m letting ease and comfort become an idol—or at the very least more important than sharing Christ.”
Are you willing to be uncomfortable in order to see God transform men?
All around you are men who need a spiritual father or big brother. You are qualified and you are called to be that in another man’s life.
THE BIG IDEA: Discipleship requires love. Love requires sacrifice. If you want to make disciples, it’s going to cost you something. But it’s worth it.