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James speaks of “becoming hearers of the word who delude themselves and not doers of the word.” A hearer who deludes himself is one who gets excited about what he has heard and begins sharing this new insight without ever experiencing it himself. This is a very common problem among religious leadership. I can think of numerous times that I spoke on some outstanding new insight or principle and let it resonate into the audience, yet not taking the time to apply it for myself.
Look around in your community and observe what kinds of disciples the various teachers in the area are making. Some bible teachers are making disciples of bible prophecy. Some are making disciples of walking the straight and narrow, no matter what. Some are making disciples who know the bible so well that they can spout chapter and verse. Still others are making disciples of those who are known for taking a stand against a variety of pet sins in the community.
HOWEVER, where are the Church leaders who are actually making disciples of Jesus? Get this, now! Jesus is not impressed with what you are doing in your ministry or your sacred work, if you are not being careful to be making disciples of Jesus in all that you are doing.
Most pastors and leaders are like I was. I knew a lot about Jesus and could articulate it well, but I didn’t know him and believe him enough to seriously and stubbornly follow him with my life. I was too busy being pastor to follow Jesus as a disciple.
As long as I live, I will never forget when three young pastors at one of the local mega-Churches asked to meet over coffee. When we met, their first question was brilliant and stunning. They asked, “How can we be pastors and follow Jesus at the same time?” This is the discipleship question of all time!
I quickly gave my answer, “I have absolutely no idea, but I’m willing to walk with you to find out. If you have a heart to become a follower of Jesus, then I’m convinced he’ll show you how.”
We don’t need more demonstrations or shows of Jesus in our Churches; we desperately need more demonstration of Jesus, lived out in the community of Jesus’ disciples.