Fear can be a hidden emotion. It manifests as anger, anxiety, or passivity. Like a deer that sees a car coming toward it, we freeze. It is not wrong to fear, but we can find ways of overcoming that fear. We can move courageously forward through our fear.
As you think about the past week, have you been active in making disciples? Or passive?
When you notice yourself growing spiritually inactive, examine the cause. Is fear playing a role? Maybe you’ve been active, but you notice it’s difficult to motivate your disciples toward action.
His Love Activates Us
God’s personal and unconditional love is the source of a Jesus follower’s courage and hope. As we take in the reality of His great affection for us, we find strength. Knowing the Mighty One delights in us empowers us to reach out with His love toward others.
“Do not fear, Zion; do not let your hands hang limp. The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you…”Zephaniah 3:16-17a NIV. italics added.
Lead Them to The Lover of Their Souls
“How do I get the disciples in my group to be more active?” she asked in a coaching call. It’s a common question. We start the first group of disciples and it’s going well. But they don’t want to share the story or scripture with others. They seem paralyzed by fear. For some, it’s fear of persecution from their families or neighbors, for others, it is fear of rejection. The pandemic doesn’t help.
Our natural tendency when we see ourselves or others being inactive or disobedient is to condemn. This doesn’t help and can in fact cause great harm. Address the real issues at the root of fear.
“I’ve told them over and over to share the story and they agree. But the next week they are full of excuses. How do I make them obey?”
“You can’t,” I said. “Instead of scolding them for inactivity, try to understand what is at the root of it. Most disciples actually want to be active for God and obedient to His Word. What is the real cause of their inactivity?”
If You Find Yourself, or Your Disciples Inactive…
1. Meditate on God’s personal and intimate love for us.
Our love relationship with Him is not conditional. He doesn’t love us more when we do more or less. He just loves us as His sons and daughters. While He wants us to be active and productive fruit-bearers in His vineyard and designed us for that, it is not what delights Him. He simply loves you as His child. Take time to reflect on this. Allow your soul to be strengthened by His love.
As this takes place, fear falls away.
2. Take a retreat and soak in His presence.
A retreat doesn’t always have to be expensive or involve travel. Take a morning off to sit and do nothing. Look up at the sky, listen to the birds, notice the beauty of nature. Listen to soft worship music or slowly reflect on scriptures that speak of His love for you. Lie still on the floor and let His love fill your emptiness and drive out your fear.
3. Freely receive so you can freely give.
We can not give what we do not have. Are your disciples full of God’s love and experiencing His transforming work in their lives? If they are, it will overflow.
You may need to equip and train them, but if they are full, His love in them will spill over to others.
4. Take one small step forward….together.
Getting started is the hardest part of developing new habits. If believers are passive in sharing their faith or making disciples, help them identify one small thing they can do. Then provide friendly accountability.
Start with something easy like praying for five minutes every day for your neighbors. Or set an alarm on your watch at a certain time of day and pray for the lost for a few minutes. As you (and your disciples) are faithful with that and see success, encourage other small steps. Do these things together, as a group, and be extravagant with giving affirmationto each other.
Another idea is to do a prayer walk in a new area. One small step. Celebrate every small victory or attempt to obey. Love your disciples freely and fully. We receive, and then we give.
Fruit and Grace Are Connected
As we emphasize obedience to Christ’s commands and disciple making, we need to be careful about legalism. Fruit and grace are tied together. Remember? Fear paralyzes, but love activates. Fruit is a natural result of abiding in the love of Jesus. Both fruit of the Spirit and fruit in new disciples made.
Be gentle and gracious with yourself and those you disciple. Love deeply. Abide in Him. Let His love transform you. The fruit will come.
What stood out to you from the article above? Share in the comments or on the DMM Frontier Missions Facebook group.