Cultivate Qualities That Can Help You Make Disciples
“Go . . . and make disciples of people of all the nations.”—MATTHEW 28:19.
1. What skills and attitudes were needed by some of God’s servants in the past?
JEHOVAH’S servants must sometimes develop skills and attitudes that will help them to do his will. At God’s command, for instance, Abraham and Sarah left the prosperous city of Ur and eventually needed the qualities and abilities required of tent dwellers. (Hebrews 11:8, 9, 15) Leading the Israelites into the Promised Land demanded that Joshua have courage, confidence in Jehovah, and knowledge of his Law. (Joshua 1:7-9) And whatever skills Bezalel and Oholiab may already have had were certainly enhanced or further developed by God’s spirit so that those men could successfully share in and oversee the construction of the tabernacle and related work.—Exodus 31:1-11.
2. We will discuss what questions related to the disciple-making work?
2 Centuries later, Jesus Christ gave his followers this commission: “Go . . . and make disciples of people of all the nations, . . . teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19, 20) Never before had people been given the privilege of doing anything quite like this. What qualities are needed for the disciple-making work? How can we cultivate such traits?
Manifest Deep Love for God
3. The command to make disciples gives us what opportunity?
3 Approaching people and endeavoring to persuade them to worship the true God requires that we have deep love for Jehovah. The Israelites could prove their love for God by wholeheartedly obeying his commandments, offering acceptable sacrifices, and extolling him in song. (Deuteronomy 10:12, 13; 30:19, 20; Psalm 21:13; 96:1, 2; 138:5) As disciple makers, we too keep God’s laws, but we also express our love for Jehovah by telling others about him and his purposes. We need to speak with conviction, choosing the right words to express our heartfelt feelings about our God-given hope.—1 Thessalonians 1:5; 1 Peter 3:15.
4. Why did Jesus enjoy teaching people about Jehovah?
4 Because he had deep love for Jehovah, Jesus found great pleasure in talking about God’s purposes, the Kingdom, and true worship. (Luke 8:1; John 4:23, 24, 31) In fact, Jesus said: “My food is for me to do the will of him that sent me and to finish his work.” (John 4:34) These words of the psalmist apply to Jesus: “To do your will, O my God, I have delighted, and your law is within my inward parts. I have told the good news of righteousness in the big congregation. Look! My lips I do not restrain. O Jehovah, you yourself know that well.”—Psalm 40:8, 9; Hebrews 10:7-10.
5, 6. What is the key quality needed by disciple makers?
5 Motivated by love for God, new ones who have just learned Bible truth sometimes speak about Jehovah and the Kingdom with such conviction that they are quite effective in convincing others to examine the Scriptures. (John 1:41) Love for God is the key factor that motivates us to engage in the disciple-making work. Let us therefore keep that love alive by regularly reading and meditating on his Word.—1 Timothy 4:6, 15; Revelation 2:4.
6 Love for Jehovah unquestionably helped to make Jesus Christ a zealous teacher. But that was not the only reason for his effectiveness as a Kingdom proclaimer. What, then, is another quality that made Jesus a successful disciple maker?
Show Loving Concern for People
7, 8. How did Jesus view people?
7 Jesus was concerned about people and showed keen interest in them. Even during his prehuman existence as God’s “master worker,” he was fond of things associated with mankind. (Proverbs 8:30, 31) As a man on earth, Jesus had compassion for people, refreshing those who came to him. (Matthew 11:28-30) Jesus reflected Jehovah’s own love and compassion, and this attracted people to the worship of the only true God. Individuals of all kinds listened to Jesus because he showed loving concern for them and their circumstances.—Luke 7:36-50; 18:15-17; 19:1-10.
8 When a certain man asked what he needed to do to inherit everlasting life, “Jesus looked upon him and felt love for him.” (Mark 10:17-21) Concerning certain individuals taught by Jesus at Bethany, we read: “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.” (John 11:1, 5) Jesus cared so much about people that he gave up needed rest in order to teach them. (Mark 6:30-34) Such deep and loving concern for fellow humans made Jesus more effective than anyone else in drawing individuals to true worship.
9. What attitude did Paul have as a disciple maker?
9 The apostle Paul too was deeply concerned about people to whom he preached. For instance, he told those who had become Christians in Thessalonica: “Having a tender affection for you, we were well pleased to impart to you, not only the good news of God, but also our own souls, because you became beloved to us.” As a result of Paul’s loving efforts, some in Thessalonica ‘turned away from their idols to slave for the living God.’ (1 Thessalonians 1:9; 2:8) If we have genuine concern for people, as Jesus and Paul did, we too may experience the joy of seeing the good news reach the hearts of those “rightly disposed for everlasting life.”—Acts 13:48.
Display a Self-Sacrificing Spirit
10, 11. Why is a self-sacrificing spirit needed when we are trying to make disciples?
10 Effective disciple-makers have a self-sacrificing spirit. They surely do not view the acquisition of wealth to be of utmost importance. In fact, Jesus told his disciples: “How difficult a thing it will be for those with money to enter into the kingdom of God!” The disciples were surprised to hear this, but Jesus added: “Children, how difficult a thing it is to enter into the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” (Mark 10:23-25) Jesus recommended a simple way of life to his followers in order for them to concentrate on making disciples. (Matthew 6:22-24, 33) Why does a spirit of self-sacrifice help us to make disciples?
11 Teaching all the things Jesus commanded requires much effort. A disciple-maker generally strives to conduct a Bible study with an interested person every week. To increase their opportunities of finding sincere ones, some Kingdom proclaimers have changed from full-time to part-time employment. Thousands of Christians have learned another language in order to reach certain ethnic groups in their area. Other disciple-makers have left home and moved to another area or country to share more fully in the harvest. (Matthew 9:37, 38) All of this calls for a self-sacrificing spirit. But more is needed to be an effective disciple maker.
Be Patient Without Wasting Time
12, 13. Why is patience so important in making disciples?
12 Patience is another quality that helps us to make disciples. Our Christian message calls for urgent action, but making disciples often takes considerable time and requires patience. (1 Corinthians 7:29) Jesus was not impatient with his half brother James. Although James apparently was well-acquainted with Jesus’ preaching activities, for a time something held him back from becoming a disciple. (John 7:5) In the short period between Christ’s death and Pentecost 33 C.E., however, James evidently became a disciple, for the Scriptures suggest that he met for prayer together with his mother, his brothers, and the apostles. (Acts 1:13, 14) James made fine spiritual progress, later shouldering weighty responsibilities in the Christian congregation.—Acts 15:13; 1 Corinthians 15:7.
13 Like farmers, Christians are cultivating things that often grow slowly—understanding of God’s Word, love for Jehovah, and a Christlike spirit. This calls for patience. James wrote: “Exercise patience . . . , brothers, until the presence of the Lord. Look! The farmer keeps waiting for the precious fruit of the earth, exercising patience over it until he gets the early rain and the late rain. You too exercise patience; make your hearts firm, because the presence of the Lord has drawn close.” (James 5:7, 8) James was urging fellow believers to ‘exercise patience until the Lord’s presence.’ If the disciples did not understand something, Jesus patiently explained or illustrated matters. (Matthew 13:10-23; Luke 19:11; 21:7; Acts 1:6-8) Now that the Lord is present, there is a similar need for patience as we endeavor to make disciples. Those who become Jesus’ followers in our day require patient instruction.—John 14:9.
14. Although we are patient, how can we use our time wisely as disciple makers?
14 Even though we are patient, the word does not bear fruit in most people with whom we start to study the Bible. (Matthew 13:18-23) After making reasonable efforts to assist them, therefore, we wisely stop spending time with such individuals and seek to find those who are more likely to value Bible truth. (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 6) Of course, even appreciative people may need extended help to change their views, attitudes, and priorities in life. So we are patient, just as Jesus was patient with the disciples who had difficulty developing a proper attitude.—Mark 9:33-37; 10:35-45.
Develop the Art of Teaching
15, 16. Why are simplicity and good preparation important when we make disciples?
15 Love for God, concern for people, a self-sacrificing spirit, and patience are important factors in successful disciple making. Teaching skills also need to be developed, for they enable us to explain matters in a clear, uncomplicated way. For example, many sayings of the Great Teacher, Jesus Christ, were especially powerful because of their simplicity. Likely you recall such statements of Jesus as these: “Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven.” “Do not give what is holy to dogs.” “Wisdom is proved righteous by its works.” “Pay back . . . Caesar’s things to Caesar, but God’s things to God.” (Matthew 6:20; 7:6; 11:19; 22:21) Of course, Jesus did not make only short statements. He taught with clarity and explained things when doing so was appropriate. How can you imitate Jesus’ style of teaching?
16 Careful preparation is the key to simplicity and clarity. An unprepared minister tends to talk too much. He may virtually drown the main points in an excessive flow of words, saying everything he knows on a subject. In contrast, the well-prepared minister thinks about the person he is instructing, meditates on the topic, and presents clearly just what is needed. (Proverbs 15:28; 1 Corinthians 2:1, 2) He considers how much the student already knows and what points should be emphasized during the study. The minister may know many interesting details about the subject, but clarity comes from pruning away unnecessary information.
17. How can we help people to reason on the Scriptures?
17 Jesus also helped people to reason, instead of simply giving them facts. On one occasion, for example, he asked: “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth receive duties or head tax? From their sons or from the strangers?” (Matthew 17:25) We may enjoy explaining the Bible so much that we have to exercise self-control in order to let the student express himself or explain a matter being considered during a home Bible study. Naturally, we should not overwhelm people with questions. Instead, with tact, good illustrations, and thoughtful questions, we can help them to appreciate the Scriptural points presented in our Bible-based publications.
18. What is involved in developing the “art of teaching”?
18 The Scriptures speak of the “art of teaching.” (2 Timothy 4:2; Titus 1:9) Such teaching ability involves much more than helping someone to memorize facts. We should try to assist a Bible student to understand the difference between truth and error, good and bad, wisdom and foolishness. As we do this and endeavor to cultivate love for Jehovah in the person’s heart, he may see why he should obey Him.
Have a Zealous Share in Disciple Making
19. How do all Christians contribute to the making of disciples?
19 The Christian congregation is a disciple-making organization. When a new one becomes a disciple, the Witness of Jehovah who found him and helped him to learn what the Bible teaches is not the only one with reason for rejoicing. When people organize a search party to locate a lost child, only one member of the group may actually find the youngster. But when the child is reunited with his parents, everyone involved in the search rejoices. (Luke 15:6, 7) Similarly, disciple-making is a team effort. All Christians share in searching for those who may become Jesus’ disciples. And when a new one starts to attend meetings at the Kingdom Hall, every Christian present contributes to building his appreciation for true worship. (1 Corinthians 14:24, 25) Thus, all Christians can rejoice that hundreds of thousands of new disciples are made each year.
20. What should you do if you want to teach others Bible truth?
20 Many faithful Christians would be delighted to teach someone about Jehovah and true worship. Despite their best efforts, though, they may not have been able to do so. If that is your situation, continue to strengthen your love for Jehovah, be concerned about people, be self-sacrificing, exercise patience, and seek to enhance your teaching skills. Above all, make your desire to teach the truth a matter of prayer. (Ecclesiastes 11:1) Find comfort in the knowledge that everything you do in Jehovah’s service contributes to the disciple-making work that glorifies God.
Can You Explain?
• Why does disciple-making test our love for God?
• What qualities are needed by disciple makers?
• What is involved in the “art of teaching”?
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By making disciples, Christians demonstrate their deep love for God
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Why must disciple-makers be interested in others?
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What are some of the qualities needed by disciple makers?
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All Christians are thrilled to see the fine results of disciple making