Lesson #4: Sustainable Multiplication
Not only should the people be faithful and worthy of your time spent pouring into them, disciples should be able to become qualified to teach others. Notice Paul didn’t tell Timothy (the person he mentored) that his disciples had to be qualified to teach. He said “who WILL also BE qualified”. They will be, though they’re not yet. This implies potential, gifting, and willingness.
The nation of Israel plummeted into wickedness after Joshua died because he and his contemporaries failed to make disciples out of the generation after them.
Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of a hundred and ten. And they buried him in the land of his inheritance, at Timnath Heres in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash.
After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel. Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD and served the Baals. They forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them. They provoked the LORD to anger because they forsook him and served Baal and the Ashtoreths. In his anger against Israel the LORD handed them over to raiders who plundered them. He sold them to their enemies all around, whom they were no longer able to resist. Whenever Israel went out to fight, the hand of the LORD was against them to defeat them, just as he had sworn to them. They were in great distress.
You can look at this as Joshua’s failure, but it’s really Moses’ failure. He was the one who discipled Joshua. And despite the fact that Joshua turned out to be a great leader in some respects, he failed to maintain the chain of sustainable multiplication.
We’ve got to stop thinking so narrowly. Our actions today affect seven generations from now. As you approach the prospect of discipleship, be aware that you can either spend all your time and energy on a person who leaves nothing to show for it when he dies, or you can begin with a higher standard. Our efforts must not be wasted. We only chance in this life – let’s make it count. Paul thought generationally. He knew that Timothy didn’t know: if you always mentor your disciple to disciple a discipler, you’ll establish a neverending chain of sustainable multiplication.
Let’s go through that again. Paul, my mentor, is training me to turn the person I mentor into a mentor. Get it? I’m being mentored to mentor a mentor. I will mentor people. Not only will I mentor a young man in his own personal issues, but I will train him to train others. And not only that, but I will train him to train others how to train. So if we can maintain this rather complicated sounding process, we influence countless generations until the Lord returns.