Make Disciples (3)
“Now when they bring you to the synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say. For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” Luke 12.11, 12
Teaching in the everyday
Every Christian is called to a ministry of teaching. We all need to grow in the Lord because we all ought to be teachers. We must be prepared to bear witness to our unsaved friends and neighbors, and we must make the most of every opportunity to encourage other disciples in their walk with and work for the Lord.
We ought to be teachers because the Good News of Jesus is what everyone needs to hear more of, as often as possible. Disciples of Jesus Christ are called to make disciples as they are going, looking for and responding to every opportunity to use our time for pointing others to the Lord.
So we don’t need a formal classroom to carry out this work. We don’t need the permission of pastors or church leaders. We don’t need elaborate outlines, PowerPoint slides, or a ready raft of authoritative sources to back-up what we teach. We have a calling to make disciples as we are going about in our everyday lives. In everyday situations – all the as-you-are-goings of our lives – we have abundant opportunities to turn a conversation or situation to matters of the Kingdom or to help others consider Christ’s promises for their lives.
But how do we do this? Do we have to memorize all kinds of persuasive facts? Store up an abundance of complex answers to objections? What must we do in our everyday situations, with believers and unbelievers, to fulfill our calling to make disciples as we are going?
In a nutshell, we must listen to the Spirit of God.
Listen to the Spirit
Now the Spirit does not speak in audible tones – at least, not typically. The Spirit speaks through the Word of God, the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments (Jn. 6.63). Thus, if we are going to be able to hear the Spirit, it will be important to make sure, every day of our lives, that we are spending significant time in the Word of God, letting the Scriptures dwell within us richly (Col. 3.16), hiding the Word in the depths of our soul (Ps. 119.9-11), building up a reservoir of understanding and experience for those times when the Spirit is prompting us to teach someone something about Christ and His Kingdom.
If it seems like we keep circling back to this basic starting-point for discipleship and disciple-making, it’s because we do. And that’s because feeding on the Word of God is the foundation for and key to growth as a disciple and readiness for making disciples.
As we listen for the Spirit during our times in the Word, He will bring us into the Presence of the Lord Jesus and His glory. There, we can see ourselves as we truly are, repent of any sins that come to light, and put on the Lord Jesus Christ more completely (2 Cor. 3.12-18; Eph. 4.17-24). The Spirit will grow us into Christlikness as we wait on Him in the Scriptures. He will bring forth in us fruit and power for being a witness to the Lord (Gal. 5.22, 23; Acts 1.8; 1 Cor. 4.20), so that, being made more like Jesus, we will be more ready to talk about Him as opportunities arise.
As we grow in the Spirit and increase in the Lord Jesus, we will be more sensitive to the Spirit’s leading in everyday situations. How does the Spirit prompt or otherwise influence us, leading us to teach the things of Jesus? In a variety of ways: He may put someone on our heart, so that we can’t seem to get that person off our mind. By so doing the Spirit may be preparing us for some encounter with that person or summoning us to pray for and contact a particular individual (Phil. 1.3). Make this person a matter of prayer, and the Spirit will guide you to a word of instruction, encouragement, or advice you can share.
In other situations, the Spirit may pick up on a word, phrase, or expression someone makes, striking it in our souls like a gong or cymbal, so that we focus on that word with anticipation until the Spirit leads us to some way to connect that word with spiritual truth. Words like fearful, anxious, uncertain, seeking, and many others can point to an openness in a person’s soul, where we might be able to plant a good Kingdom seed. Or some situation or difficulty in a person’s life may cue us to recall a relevant Word from the Lord that can serve as a conversation-starter.
The Spirit may also use conviction of sin – in others or in us – to get us moving in the direction of a conversation about spiritual things. Other believers, burdened by a sin, can be taught the value of confession, repentance, and seeking the Lord. Unbelievers, weighed down with guilt or shame (Ps. 83.16), can hear from us the Good News of forgiveness and reconciliation.
Situations that are on everybody’s minds – a sudden disaster, an election, a public scandal, a drop in the economy – can also be effective means for the Spirit to lead us to engage others about eternal matters. The better informed we are on such matters, the readier we will be to talk about them, and to use them as pivot points toward spiritual matters (1 Chron. 12.32). Or the Spirit may prompt someone else, who sees something in us, to open the conversation by asking a question that can lead to talking about spiritual things (1 Pet. 3.15).
However the Spirit prompts us to engage a teaching moment, we need to make sure of a few things before we open our mouths.
First, the words we use in conversing with others must be seasoned with grace (Col. 4.6). You can’t teach people by condemning or belittling them. You must reach out to them with grace, as a servant, eager to minister to whatever the expressed need may be. Grace flows through our words when in our conversations we show genuine interest in others, patience to explain matters, gentleness whenever we are challenged, and love in our tone of voice.
Also, as Jesus showed, asking questions can help prepare the minds of others for whatever the Spirit may give us to share and them to hear. By getting their thinking in gear and allowing them to put their own thoughts forward, we can create a level ground for sincere conversational give-and-take. Asking questions not only helps to put others into a learning mode, it allows us to demonstrate the love of Christ and helps us improve our listening skills.
Finally, keep in mind that you don’t have to do everything at one time. Teaching is an ongoing calling. We’re not driving Gospel dump trucks around the town, looking for unsuspecting lost persons or immature disciples to dump our whole load on all at once. Rather, we are more like physicians, listening carefully to diagnose the need, offering a little help here and a bit of medicine there, and realizing that sometimes cures for what ails us can take a long time.
Listen for the Spirit in the teaching moments of your everyday life. He can lead you in how to proceed.
1. In the hymn, “More about Jesus,” we sing the line, “Spirit of God, my Teacher be/showing the things of Christ to me.” How do you know when the Spirit is teaching you the things of Christ?
2. What are some ways you might expect the Spirit to prod, push, or point you toward a teaching opportunity today?
3. Give some examples of questions you might ask to begin a conversation with one of your “students.”
Next steps – Transformation: In the light of today’s ReVision, reflect on the week gone by thus far. Can you see any times when the Spirit may have been prompting you to speak to someone? Today, try to be more alert to Him. Whenever you sense the Spirit leading, simply open your mouth and begin a conversation: ask a question, make an observation, solicit an opinion. Go with the Spirit wherever He leads from there.
T. M. Moore
Working Your Personal Mission Field
Two little books can help you be more effective in your calling to make disciples. You can order a free copy of Joy to Your World! and The Gospel of the Kingdom by clicking here. Be sure to check out our free monthly Personal Mission Field Workshop by clicking here.
Thanks for your prayers and support
If you find ReVision helpful in your walk with the Lord, please seek the Lord, asking Him whether you should contribute to the support of this ministry with your financial gifts. As the Lord leads, you can use the Contribute button at the website to give with a credit card or through PayPal, or you can send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.
Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.