Sometimes we talk too much. Sometimes we help too much. Sometimes we become well-intentioned dragons. Marshall Shelley writes about his book Well-Intentioned Dragons,
Every church has them–sincere, well-meaning Christians who leave ulcers, strained relationships, and hard feelings in their wake. They’ don’t intend to be difficult; they’ don’t consciously plot destruction or breed discontent among the members. But they often do undermine the ministry of the church and make pastors question their calling.
But, the people are not the only ones who unintentionally derail God’s plans and make havoc. Leaders, pastors, and well-meaning disciple-makers get ahead of God, too. We have to have the answer. We are excited to help. We are driven to console. In an odd twist of immaturity, we diminish the power, wisdom, and exactness of the Holy Spirit as we take over his job.
One of the greatest challenges of disciple-making is staying our lane. God is the one who transforms people. His Spirit is the precision surgical tool separating light from dark within the soul. His Spirit, using the fuel of’ God’s words, evokes challenge, conviction, and change.’ Jesus’ words may be a bit out of context here, but I believe them to be true in all situations,
don’t worry about how to defend yourself or what to say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what needs to be said.Luke 12:12
There is no doubt that God wishes to use us, but great disciple-makers are deep, listening people. Solomon got it right when he prayed,
Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours?”1 Kings 3:9
Discipleship is a dance between God and the disciple. If we have a role, it might only be to play the right song or to push them on the dance floor when they are uncomfortable and unsure. Whatever we do, we must let God lead. Here a few things that I keep in mind when making disciples.
- Count to ten, slowly. I know a lot. I have seen a lot. But, unlike God, I do not know anyone’s heart. Nor, do I know how or what God is trying to do in their life. I need to count to ten and listen to God. There is a probability that he does not need me to get his work done.
- Hear, ask, and wait. Even when God gives me insight, when he connects the dots, when I get it, I ask a critical question, “What do you want me to do with this?” I have found that sometimes God enlightens me only so I can pray. Even when he gives me words, I need to ask, “Is it time to speak?” I have derailed many God-moments as I derailed God by not taking my cues from him.
- Be Socrates or, better, Jesus. Jesus was the master of the leading question and the miraculous metaphor. There is nothing greater than leading someone to self-discovery of the Truth. Leading people to an answer allows them to learn, to hear from God, to sync their mind to their heart, and, ultimately, to independence from me.
- Let it stew. Spaghetti sauce is better the second day—deeper in flavor, more abundant in taste. Not everything needs to happen quickly. Not every revelation is ready. Transformation is a dish with many layers of flavor that develop over time.
Do your good intentions ever derail God? What do you do to stay out of the Spirit’s way?