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Disciple-Making Failures

My own stumbling efforts to make disciples certainly have not always been crowned with success. That’s one of the things that breaks my heart.

Compromise for social Approval. I remember a young man whom I will call Bill. After some seminary training Bill came to our city deeply disillusioned with Christianity and his own walk and life. As I began to meet, talk, and pray with him, I found that he knew nothing of the basic disciplines of the Christian walk. I shared these with him, and he responded positively to the idea. He began to meet the Lord morning by morning in a quiet time, began to memorize Scripture, was effectively reaching out in witness to others, and was doing an excellent job of in‐depth Bible study. He was capable of making a good living with his hands, which he was doing, when one day a small church in Oklahoma City called him to be their pastor. He accepted. The Lord blessed his ministry there, and we continued to fellowship. It wasn’t long until a larger church in a distant state gave him a call, and he responded. In the larger situation, he was in a more affluent society. He began to drink socially, then steadily began to seek out the companionship of other women, and consequently lost his wife and family. He took his own life in a motel room. My heart yet yearns for him.

Love of money. Then there was another whom I’ll call George. George was a sharp fraternity man, socially very acceptable, a good businessman, and seemingly sitting on top of the world. When he was about thirty years of age the claims of Christ were made clear to him for the first time, and he made that commitment. Then the roof fell in. He lost his job moved to another city with his family, had difficulty finding employment, but finally, by the grace of God, was able to get a good job. He began to move up in the economic scale again. He continued to walk with the Lord and encouraged others. But his desire for wealth began to shade his judgment, and he took a job that put him in compromising positions time and time again. Finally, the temptation was too great, and he succumbed. He left his wife and children. The last I heard about him was that he had married a widow older than himself and was living on her money. George and I had spent literally hours together studying the Bible, praying together, going out on ministry assignments together. Often on my knees weeping in prayer, I wondered and asked God where I had failed him.

Lack of wholehearteness. Let me tell you about a man whom I’ll call Stan. Everyone like Stan. He had a dear wife. They were active in their church, Sunday school, and home Bible study. For perhaps two years, they were about as faithful a couple as you could see. They grew and grew to a certain point, and then stopped‐ stagnated.

Today, Stan is relatively ineffective as a husband, as a father, and as a witnessing Christian. There were some issues in his life that he refused to deal with. One was a failure to submit to authority. He held on to a streak of rebelliousness. Another was unfaithfulness‐ making promises and not keeping them, starting jobs and not completing them. A third issue was his refusal to operate with a margin. This was true with time as well as with money. Fourth, a lack of wholeheartedness. He did things as he wanted to do them instead of making an all‐out effort to do them as to the Lord. Fifth, just plain laziness, which in the final analysis is self‐centeredness. Today, as I look at Stan, and recognize the infinite potential in his life, it grieves me to see him on the shelf outside the will of God.

 

– From “Making Disciples,” Gene Warr.  Used by permission of the author.

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