Tough Discipleship: Leading Hard-Cases That Don’t Grow

Discipleship is simple. This is how simple it was. Jesus taught this concept to simple-minded commoners within a three-year window. Discipleship is not rocket science, but neither is it a walk in the park.

I have obeyed God’s mandate (sometimes reluctantly) to follow Jesus, fish for the lost and fellowship with believers for many years now. What gives me the most satisfaction is seeing people whom I introduce Christ to grow in their walk with God.

And then there are the cases where people you walk with don’t. You invest time, effort and finances into people. All this hoping that they see God’s truth, turn away from sin and walk by faith. But then they swing back and forth between complacency and surrender. They wear two masks. Sometimes they even stop showing up all together.

Have you ever experienced that? How did it make you feel?

One common feeling leaders who go through this feel is impatience. We do all we can to change the person. We sometimes even demand external change without an internal revelation. But if there’s anything Jesus taught us about discipleship, it’s having patience.

If there’s anything Jesus taught us about discipleship, it’s having patience.

We see this in the parable Jesus shared about the Prodigal Son. Luke 15:20 says this, “So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”

What strikes us most about this story is compassion. The unconditional love of the Father is the theme. We see this most when the father starts running towards the once stubborn now repentant son.

But what we don’t see is another manifestation of the father’s unfailing love. It’s one that hides behind the background. That manifestation is his patience. Imagine how many days the father must have been standing at the gate of his house. Think of him watching out from sunrise to sunset to see whether his son would return. No assurances, just patience.

I realized through this story how patient God is with each of us. Think of it this way. Since the cross has been waiting for more than 2,000 years for mankind to return to Him and Him to return to us.That patience God has for the lost best materializes the patience of the father towards the son.

Jesus has modeled that patience for us. This leads us to chase after others with a Christ-like and Spirit-empowered patience. God calls us to actively pursue and- when necessary- wait for those who don’t grow, change, volunteer, lead or surrender.

Don’t give up on the lost because God never did and He never will. And beyond anything remember this- even when we were stubborn and wayward, God never gave up on us.

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