What can you do when you receive an request for adding another disciple and your schedule is already full? What are the options in order to ensure the disciple does not lose interest? How can you avoid spreading yourself too thin?
Several options come to mind. Consider the following:
- PRAY: always start here; plan to be responsive to the Spirit’s leadership
- CLARIFY: meet to clarify expectations/needs–one or two sessions may be all that is needed to provide answers, resources, encouragement, etc.
- TRANSFER: pass the disciple to another discipler–ensure a smooth transfer to a discipler who has time available
- REARRANGE: free up personal time–consider how you can rearrange your schedule to make this possible (6:00 AM on Tuesdays?)
- REDUCE: adjust time being invested with a maturing disciple–instead of meeting once per week with him or her/move to every other week
- HOLD: ask the disciple to allow you to add them to your list of people to be discipled, when a slot is available
Several factors come into play as you consider the request. First, is the individual a friend? If so, then #2 may be out of the question. Second, is the individual lost? If so, then time is of the essence and #5 may not be best.
Your schedule matters. At some point, your ability to juggle your schedule and energy will determine what you can do. If adding one more disciple-making opportunity leads to dreading time together, it may not be wise to add one more. At the same time, the request may simply cause you to be more effective at scheduling and prioritizing other requests.
Effective disciple-making takes time. A friend of mine launched disciple-making by setting aside a discipling session each with his wife, son, and daughter. Then he added on a discipling session with some of the staff. On top of that he began a mixed gender group of 10 people. The complication is that he did not give up any of the other pressing obligations of ministry. Those five disciple-making appointments plus preparation took about 15-20 hours per week on top of heavy weekly ministry demands. As time went along, he became better at scheduling and balancing ministry demands. And his church and staff supported him better–partially because more of them became involved as the months went by.
Pray for opportunities to disciple. Determine how best to ensure disciples receive the support they need. When possible and appropriate, agree to serve as a discipler. Make disciples of all nations!