Never Overlook Those Who Serve With You

When Peter wrote his first epistle, he got help from Silvanus (also known as Silas), who served the early church and traveled with Paul. Peter said: “Through Silvanus, our faithful brother (for so I regard him), I have written to you briefly” (1 Peter 5:12). Because Peter lacked education, scholars believe he needed Silvanus to be a scribe and editor for him.

Peter was a powerful apostle, but he couldn’t fulfill his ministry without other gifted people on his team. That’s why he raved about his beloved companion, calling him “faithful.” You should do the same. You should brag about those who serve with you, and give them the credit they deserve. Don’t be so insecure that you can’t praise others. Don’t overlook them—let them share the spotlight. Don’t make ministry about you. Be thankful for every Silvanus that God sends to help you!

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Discipleship Is Multicultural

The apostle Paul loved foreigners. He was raised in a “Jewish only” culture, but God called him to the Gentiles. Many of Paul’s disciples were foreign. Timothy was half Greek, Titus was Greek, Onesimus was a runaway slave from Colossae (in modern Turkey), and Luke was the only Gentile who wrote part of the New Testament. A woman named Persis, which means “Persian woman,” was on Paul’s team (see Romans 16:12), along with many Italians.

Paul required church leaders to be “hospitable” (1 Tim. 3:2). This word in the Greek means “love of foreigners.” You cannot be a good leader if you don’t open your heart to those who are different from you! I have been blessed with friends and disciples who are Asian, African, Hispanic, Brazilian, Slavic, Romanian, Indian, Icelandic and more. They have stretched my love and made my heart bigger. There are foreigners everywhere! God can use you to mentor them.


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Empower Your Disciples With Opportunity

Recently I took my friend Hao Xu on a trip to Guatemala. He came to be mentored, but I didn’t want him to just watch while I preached. I let Hao teach in our meetings, and he prayed for many people. They were so excited that the Lord used a Chinese man to bring healing!

To effectively make disciples, you must empower them. Jesus didn’t just lecture His disciples. He invited Peter, James and John to pray with Him when He raised a girl from the dead (Mark 5:37). He gave His disciples authority over demons and sent them to preach (Mark 6:7). When He fed the 5,000, Jesus involved His disciples in the miracle. Andrew found the boy who had five loaves and two fish. Then Jesus blessed the food, broke it and gave it to the disciples to distribute (see Mark 6:41). They didn’t just watch. Give your disciples opportunity. Push them, encourage them, and empower them … and they will grow!


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Let God Do His Work to Change People

Moses turned water into blood—that was the first of 10 deadly plagues in Egypt. But Jesus turned water into wine—that was His first miracle (see John 2:7-11). This shows us the difference between the law and grace. The law can’t change people; it only brings the stench of guilt. But when a person believes in Jesus, his nature changes on the inside. A true Christian does not have to sweat or strive to change; instead, Jesus brings joyful transformation.

Always trust in God’s grace as you mentor others. It’s not up to you to change people. You are not the Holy Spirit. You can instruct, encourage and correct, but God’s life-giving power is working in your disciples. Expect to see powerful changes. As the Spirit works, they will defeat sinful habits, grow in faith, develop character and discover their spiritual gifts. You will see a miracle!


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Give Your Disciples Your Time

I love to read about the apostle Paul’s journeys—not just because of the adventure, the miracles or the narrow escapes, but also because of the way Paul modeled relational discipleship. He invested so much time in those he mentored. The Bible says Paul and his team “spent a long time with the disciples” in Antioch (Acts 14:28). When he visited the church in Troas, Paul and his team “stayed seven days” (Acts. 20:6). When he landed in Tyre, he looked for the disciples and stayed with them for another seven days (Acts 21:4).

Discipleship is a time investment. You have to make it a priority. Don’t shortchange those you mentor. And remember that you can give your time even if you are not present with them. You can call, text or e-mail. Paul was not always with his disciples but he wrote to them, and his letters make up a lot of the New Testament. His investment in them lives on today for us!


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You Need Some God-Sized Goals

The apostle Paul had big goals. He was determined to preach to Caesar in Rome, and not even a shipwreck stopped him. He also had a goal to preach in Spain. He told the Romans: “I have had for many years a longing to come to you whenever I go to Spain” (Rom. 15:23-24). We don’t know if he actually made it to Spain before he was martyred, but the dream must have propelled him forward.

Is there a big dream that excites you? Do you have some bold, God-given goals? I encourage you to dream. Don’t settle for a mediocre life. God-inspired goals are impossible for you to attain in your own power, but they will cause you to stretch your faith and achieve supernatural results. What is your Spain? Dream big and don’t let circumstances stop you!


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Build Your Disciples Through Encouragement

I love the moment in Scripture when Jesus changed Simon’s name. He said: “Blessed are you, Simon Bar Jonah…I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church” (Matt. 16:17-18). Jesus saw something special in Peter. By giving him a name that means “rock,” He was seeing past Peter’s doubts and weaknesses. He called him into his true identity as a strong apostolic leader.

Peter didn’t always act like a rock. He was often unstable, and he even denied Jesus after His arrest. But ultimately Peter became the solid rock that Jesus said he would become. In the same way, you can speak to the destiny of those you mentor. Your job is to see their potential. Give them Scriptures. Text or call them and remind them of their purpose, especially when they have failed. Your words of blessing will build them up and catapult them to a higher level of spiritual maturity.”


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Don’t Be a Wimp When Trials Come!

The apostle Paul’s ministry wasn’t easy. He was imprisoned, beaten, criticized and shipwrecked. Yet he served God with great joy. When he was stoned and left for dead in Iconium, he gathered the believers and told them: “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). He urged his disciples to follow his example and endure hardship.

We don’t hear much preaching today about suffering. We prefer the easy road. Yet the Christian life is a struggle. We are in a spiritual war, and our enemy is real. Jesus said: “In the world you will have tribulation” (John 16:33). Then He added the good news: “But take courage; I have overcome the world.” Don’t be a wimp when difficulties come. Don’t cave in or give up. Be strong, pray, trust God, resist temptation and rejoice that Jesus is bigger than any problem you face!”


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Focus on the One, Not the Crowd

A few weeks ago I spoke at a church in Virginia where Brandon McPherson is the young adult pastor. I’ve been mentoring Brandon for a few years. I was glad I could speak at his church, and we had powerful services. The congregation was blessed. But my main goal that weekend was to spend time with Brandon. When I go on a ministry trip my focus is not on the crowd. I focus on the one.

The apostle Paul often preached to crowds. But he spent most of his time with his disciples, and he gave special attention to Timothy. The result was that Timothy carried Paul’s heart. Paul said of him: “I have sent to you Timothy…and he will remind you of my ways” (1 Cor. 4:17). Crowd ministry is necessary, and can result in changed lives. But you will make the most lasting impact if you reproduce yourself in the one. Then, when you die, the next generation will carry on!


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Don’t Be Discouraged By Your Weaknesses

Do you struggle with unclean thoughts, wrong desires or bad habits? Of course you do! We are all human, and we often feel the pull of our sinful nature dragging us down. Jesus knows this about us. He told His disciples: “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26:41). The first step to overcoming temptation is to admit your weakness. Don’t beat yourself up or condemn yourself because you struggle with sin. If you did not struggle, you would be dead!

When I told a good friend this week that I was battling temptation, he said: “The fact that you are battling shows that you are a warrior.” I love that! God does not condemn us because we have a sinful nature. He calls us to fight! He says: “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). Fighting is not an option. Spiritual warfare is real. But you don’t have to fight alone. Invite close friends into your struggle and enlist their encouragement and prayers. And always soak yourself in God’s love and remember that He accepts you in spite of your flaws.


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