In the previous post, we began seeing the portraits that Paul laid out for Timothy and other believers on what an effective disciple maker looks like. The first two were:
- A Steward
- A Soldier
Now we can continue with three more portraits Paul gave to Timothy, that we can and should emulate in our own lives as disciple makers.
3. The Athlete
The disciple maker is like an athlete. Notice what Paul says in 2 Timothy:
An athlete is not crowned unless he completes according to the rules. (2 Timothy 2:5 ESV)
Paul has already written Timothy to train like an athlete in 1 Timothy –
Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. (1 Timothy 4: 7, 8 ESV)
Paul admonishes Timothy to “discipline” himself or to “train to be godly.” Now he tells him he must obey the rules. If an athlete breaks the rules, he will be disqualified. The disciple maker must seek to lead a godly life, living by biblical principles so that he can win the approval of his Lord, King and Judge – Jesus.
4. The Farmer
A disciple maker is like a farmer plowing, planting, cultivating, watering, and harvesting – but it is God who gives the increase.
This image reminds us of several practical truths.
- Farmers’ work had costs
Farmers begin their day at sunrise and usually work until after dark.
Ministry is hard work – it is not glamorous and will cost you. “Ministry that costs nothing accomplishes nothing.”
- Farmers must be patient
Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. (James 5:7 ESV)
Those who make disciples must be patient. Spiritual growth takes time. The disciple maker must be patient to share and invest in his disciples knowing that only eternity will reveal all of the harvest God has accomplished through him.
- Farmers deserve their share of the crops
Just as a farmer makes his living from the land, those who are vocational (ministers) disciple makers have a right to have their needs met through the gospel. But all disciple makers get to enjoy a share of the crops. There are so many benefits to making disciples – rich fellowship, joy in journeying together, seeing those you disciple grow, and life-long friendships are just a few!
5. The Worker
Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some. (2 Timothy 2:14-18 ESV)
The disciple maker is not only pictured as a steward, a soldier, and athlete, and a farmer, but he is also pictured as a worker. Notice what Paul says in v. 15:
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
The disciple maker is to “be diligent” to labor over the word, “rightly handling” it. “Rightly handling” in the language of the New Testament means “to cut straight.” If the disciple maker is going to intentionally equip believers with the word so they can grow, mature and replicate the process, it is imperative that they strive to interpret the word correctly!
These are three vastly different portraits for a disciple maker to emulate, but look back through them and see which traits are strong in your own life, and which ones might need prayer, the word, and growth to cultivate.