In Part 2 of our discussion on Leadership Qualities of a Disciple Maker we saw how Christ applied His leadership style in a perfect way to prepare His disciples for the Great Commission. We looked at five traits that distinguished His Godly leadership from conventional leadership.
In this third and last part of our series we will focus on two special characteristics that are intimately tied to the success of our Lord’s discipleship program – Being Intentional and Relational.
Jesus was an Intentional and a Relational leader
Jesus was an intentional leader – everything He did was deliberate and purposeful. Discipleship was the compass that directed His life and advanced His mission. Jesus made it clear that He intended to change those who follow him.
Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
- Matthew 4:19
He intentionally sought to lead and influence others so that when He left they could carry on after him. Jesus met His disciples where they were. If they lacked faith, He challenged them to grow their faith.
The intentional leader’s life is centered on making disciples.
Intentional leaders create opportunities for their disciples to serve. Jesus calls us to be participants, not spectators. Serving helps disciples to not only identify and develop gifts but also to mature.
Intentional discipleship requires the disciple-maker to carefully evaluate and respond to a person’s stage of spiritual growth to determine what he needs.
The disciple-maker will ask three basic questions –
- Where is the disciple now?
- Where does he need to go?
- And what does he need to get there?
The answers will help build strong relationships and guide both the disciple and the disciple-maker along the journey.
Successful intentional leaders manifest the following:
- They drive the discipleship process toward the goal of making disciples
- They evaluate where people are in their growth process
- They move with purpose through their interactions with the people they are discipling
- They recognize undeveloped gifts in people and help develop those gifts into reality
- They recognize potential leaders who have the ability to influence others and are intentional in cultivating that leadership gift for effective service
- They create environments for growth
The intentional leader drives the discipleship process
God’s very nature is relational and this essence pours out from the pages of the Bible. Notice how many times Scripture talks about love, community, and close relationship among His people. These Scriptures simply reflect God’s character. God’s very nature, therefore, is not only to guide His children to form relationships with each other, but more importantly to desire for them to have a relationship with Him and with His Son.
…that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.”
- 1 John 1:3
The Lord Jesus led others out of His own intimate life-giving relationship with the Father and His humble dependence on the Holy Spirit. He taught us to follow His rhythm of life in which He abided and bore fruit, enjoying His Father’s love and sharing that love with others (John 15:1-17).
Jesus was a relational leader – He spent purposeful time with His disciples and was involved in their daily lives. He ate, cried, prayed, talked, walked, and traveled with them. They knew He was concerned with their welfare by the way He related to them. In all likelihood, the most consistent impression they personally felt was “Jesus loves me.”
Jesus was highly relational and all of His relationships were purposeful.
It is much more fruitful to be intentional and relational with a few rather than with many. Jesus ministered to the crowds but He focused His time and energy on those He chose. He poured His life into the twelve, was more intimate with three, and most intimate with one. All of us have only so much time, spiritual energy, and relational capacity for so many people. The Lord’s small Life Group was ideally suited to effective growth.
He called specific individuals to mentor them in a smaller setting. This discipling apprenticeship involved private instruction and question-and-answer sessions as well as on-the-job observation and delegation. He empowered His followers through His instruction and leadership, both encouraging and disciplining them.
But without a parable He did not speak to them. And when they were alone, He explained all things to His disciples.”
- Mark 4:34
Successful disciple makers are intentional and relational with a few rather than with many
Successful relational leaders acknowledge the following:
- Relationships are what God uses to communicate His truth and help people grow
- Without relationships, discipleship may be informative, but won’t be life-changing
- Relationships create the environment where discipleship happens best
- Relationships may well be the most sought after, yet most absent, piece of the discipleship journey
- A relational environment is the vehicle that God uses to bring about real change in people’s lives
- The keys of a successful relational environment are transparency and authenticity
- Relational leaders make themselves available – Jesus was always present
In summary, this series has argued that in a healthy leadership model of discipleship, every church member is a disciple-maker and a potential leader, having the gifts and calling of God in his life. We recognized the special mission that Christ entrusted to every believer: to go and make disciples. We saw how Christ, our example in all things, applied His leadership style in a perfect way to prepare His disciples for the Great Commission. Finally, we identified two special characteristics that were intimately tied to the success of our Lord’s discipleship program – being Intentional and Relational.