Unleash New Leaders (identity magazine)

This article is from our Fall 2022 issue of Identity Magazine, a CLB resource for teens and young adults.
When Jesus stepped into the lives of these fishermen, inviting them into his story, what was actually going through the minds of these men? As they said “yes” to Jesus’ call, were they wondering inside, “Is this crazy? Am I doing the right thing?” Or were they so compelled by the invitation that those fleeting questions barely hit their radar?

When we read these stories of Jesus collecting his disciples, it’s easy to think of them as “other”—as some special species of human who were specifically created to be one of the 12 people in Jesus’ special club. In reality, Jesus was followed by way more than 12 men. Luke 10 tells us about 72 others who were sent out by Jesus to share the good news of God’s kingdom. They had followed Jesus long enough to know what he was like and the way he lived, and to have been given the power to perform miracles in his name. They returned to Jesus reporting that even the demons had obeyed them!

While “disciple” seems like such a foreign concept, does this change when we think of them as followers? We know about followers in our culture, don’t we? Look at almost any social media platform and you’ll see what I mean. We follow people all day: friends, classmates from middle school, second cousins, pastors, big name celebrities. And not only do we watch what they’re doing, we literally follow them! We follow them to the website with the great deal on jeans, we follow them to the band they just discovered, we follow them in using this funny audio clip over our own video.

It’s important to ask ourselves: Who am I following? Whose disciple am I? Who is discipling me?

To submit to being discipled means acknowledging that there is someone who knows better than me, more than me, and that I need to receive that information from them. I am in submission to someone in authority. Many of us enjoy living in blissful ignorance. We understand that when we know more and know better, we are responsible for more, for better. Do I really want that? And in the case of submitting to Christ, it seems to carry even more gravity: I have a responsibility to learn from him, become like him, and invite others along.

As a Christ follower, what does it look like for you to share Christ? What grandiose and scary scenarios enter your head? If you’re anything like me, you picture yourself asking the wrong question or saying something the wrong way, resulting in some sort of unintended verbal ping pong game, ending with you frantically fleeing the scene of the misdeed.
Yes. Better not do that.

Recently, several Hillcrest Academy students went with long-time mission leader Mr. Peterson and chaperone Patty Zwiers to Orlando, FL to help a local church serve their poverty- and crime-stricken community. They served meals to the homeless, visiting with them and learning about their lives, and offering to pray with some of them. Most were receptive to the offer and even excited to have someone pray with them. One person, born and raised in America, had never heard the Easter story: the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection, and what it means for us. Upon the students’ return, one shared with the student body that she realized that what she had experienced during this opportunity was something she could easily be doing “at home, or right here at Hillcrest.”

She had simply been invited to walk alongside the adult leaders as they followed Jesus. She said “yes,” and as she served, she experienced being a disciple. It really is that simple.

Being a disciple of Jesus simply means following Jesus. It means walking in his way—going the same direction, living the way he lived. When we “make disciples” of others, we invite others to follow Jesus, and help them learn to walk in his way. As they grow, they can share the gospel with others and eventually disciple others as well. Our goal as disciples is to become more like Jesus and to lead others to become more like Jesus.

I know of many students who have graduated from high school and stayed in town for a few years who continue to help at the same youth group. This is a wonderful example of students saying “yes” to discipleship! They get to be discipled by leaders who are further ahead of them, and they have an opportunity to learn how to lead, pouring the gospel into those who are coming after them.

When I go back to those verses in Mark, I am amazed at the obedience we see in the response of the disciples. They heard the call of Jesus, and their response was submissive reverence. With little knowledge of what they were getting themselves into, they dropped their nets and followed Jesus. And their obedience, over time, would grow into a humble boldness in sharing the good news of Jesus.

How many simple opportunities to say “yes” do we pass up? Whether I refrain from helping a neighbor paint the side of their home when I know I have the time to give, or ignore a need to assist in the children’s ministry at our church, or let myself get psyched out of reaching out to a person hovering on the fringes during a fellowship time at church, there is no end to the opportunities we are given to love like Jesus.

And all it takes is for us to leave our work, our proverbial nets, say “yes,” and trust God to take care of the rest.
RYAN & AMY GARVIN both serve in ministry at Hillcrest Lutheran Academy, where Ryan is on staff as an instructor and Activities Director. They live in Fergus Falls, MN with their four daughters.
Posted in
Tagged with

No Comments