What is the most important thing that we can bring to making disciples who make disciples? I suggest it is keeping quiet! If you want to make disciples and have the process stop at one generation, talk all you want. However, to disciple a disciple- maker we must learn to be quiet, listen and trust the Holy Spirit. That is what they need to learn in order to disciple someone else.
For some of you, this may be an easy thing to do. But for many, God has given us a passion to share his Good News. We have been taught about cultural and contextual communication, studied his Word and love to share with others in a way that (in our not-so-humble opinion) is insightful, inspiring, and certainly interesting.
Paul is the senior pastor of a good sized church in a capital city. I had been coaching him in his ministry journey and, in time, we began talking about his approach to discipleship. As I was coaching him, he was learning how coaching relationships unfolded.
I was working with him when he started discipling John. John was not an easy person to relate to, always combative and argumentative in his communication. As soon as their relating began, John started raising very complicated questions.
Paul tried to answer his questions but found John arguing with him and becoming belligerent. As we talked about what was happening he came to the conclusion that he should be quiet and listen intently. If needed Paul would simply summarise the questions being asked by John to ensure he understood exactly what John was asking. If that worked, then he would seek to understand why those questions were important to John and what sort of answer he was he looking for
When Paul met with John he kept quiet and the summarised John’s questions instead of trying to answer them. He found that this helped to remove much of the emotion from the conversation. After Paul had summarised a question, he then asked John how he would answer the question.
John did say later that he found this approach a bit frustrating but he was curious as to what Paul was doing and why he was doing it.
When Paul and I spoke he said he was amazed at what was happening. It turned out that the initial questions John was asking were a smoke screen and eventually they got down to the real questions John had on his heart.
Once they reached this stage Paul told John that he didn’t know the answer to his questions and suggested he try to pray and listen to what Jesus had to say about them. So John slowly began to do this and to receive God’s responses to his questions. This began John on a journey to Jesus and a meaningful relationship with Him.
Paul had been taught to answer the questions he was asked which may be alright in some circumstances, but in this one it just didn’t work. John didn’t care about the answers to his early questions; he was more interested in whether Paul could be trusted to help him find the important missing answers in his life.
Why do we have a hard time being quiet? It really comes down to pride. Too often we trust our ability to impact the person we are discipling more than we trust in the Holy Spirit’s ability to teach and guide them.
Do you trust the Holy Spirit living in you? Do you really trust that the Holy Spirit can work in a disciple, even if they’ve just started moving towards Jesus?