As I write this blog, I am on a plane headed to an undisclosed location in East Asia. I will be visiting a Ukrainian young man who I discipled for six years in Ukraine and with whom I continue to cooperate since his move to East Asia two years ago.
As I think about the heart and vision of this young man, I see a “mark”, a strong characteristic, that I have observed in the life of every devoted disciple of Jesus I have ever known- he knows how to listen to the voice of Jesus , and when he hears what Jesus says, he obeys.
Jesus said, this is the kind of relationship He desires with us. “The sheep that are My own hear and are listening to My voice; and I know them, and they follow Me (John 10:27) .”
I recently heard Neil Cole, author of numerous books and a catalyst for church planting around the world, say, “ if you want to boil all my books and all my teachings down to one simple thing, it is simply this: Listen to Jesus and do what He says.”
In the past I thought that the key to making disciples was that I needed to effectively teach people the “right stuff”. I have now realized it is a mistake to get people to depend on my teaching. My primary role is to be a example of listening to and obeying Jesus and to create an environment where young disciples can learn to do the same. When that happens, I will no longer be making “my disciples”, but disciples of Jesus.
In April, I participated in a conference in Kiev for young Ukrainians. In the place of a whole slate of lectures, we led the group, of mostly teenagers, through a simple process that taught them how they could read the Scriptures and discover what God wanted to say to them. They also learned how to share with one another scriptural insights and what steps of obedience God was calling them to. It was amazing to see their genuine excitement about the fact that God wants to speak both to us and through us.
And so, as I travel to meet followers of Jesus in a new place, I go with the confidence that my role is really not that difficult. I mainly need to help them learn how to hear the voice of the One who loves them deeply and how to respond to what He says in trust and obedience.