I’m a fairly old-fashioned person. That’s not to say that I don’t stay fresh and enjoy contemporary culture. It’s just that I’m probably something of an old man at heart, and I prefer to think there’s nothing wrong with that.
Now while I enjoy lots of modern conveniences in life — mainly for their time-saving qualities — there are some things I like the old-fashioned way. . . things like slow-churned homemade ice cream, popcorn in a popper, and a nice hot wet shave.
I know — there are so many convenient and specialized shave gels on the market. And they do an OK job. But to me, there’s just something therapeutic about a hot lather shave with a mug and a badger brush. And for me, there’s just no substitute. Maybe it’s the male equivalent of a pedicure. My wife really likes them!
The shave shop I use is called The Art of Shaving, and they have a four-step process: (1) prepare; (2) lather up; (3) shave ; (4) moisturize. As I was shaving today, I got to thinking about the parallels between shaving and disciple-making.
So many times we want to rush through things in life. When men do that in shaving, they nick themselves, miss spots, and irritate and dry out their skin. Likewise, when we try to rush the disciple-making process, we often get into trouble.
Here are a few insights regarding the similarities between shaving and disciple-making:
- Both require PREPARATION. When we fail to properly know the people we are trying to evangelize, we can very quickly find ourselves going against the grain. Disciple-making cannot be a rushed job. It demands an investment of time. . .time in prayer, time in bible study, and time answering the hard questions that someone may have.
- Both require HYDRATION. Water is required for anything to sustain life. Without water to form a rich lather, the razor doesn’t glide smoothly. As a result, the face can be damaged in a variety of ways. Disciple-making also requires ‘water’ — in the form of love, mercy, and grace. It is simply not enough to tell someone that they’ll burn in hell without Christ; disciple-makers know that they must carry the redemptive message of Christ’s love, which is truly life-giving.
- Both require ACTION. Just as a man cannot pray his beard away, a disciple-maker cannot simply pray another person into heaven. We must be willing to do the hard work of building a relationship, sharing the Gospel, and living out the message of Christ through words and actions.
- Both require FOLLOW-UP. I don’t know about you, but I like my skin to feel smooth and clean. I follow a hot shave with a few splashes of cold water and an all-natural moisturizer. If I pay that much attention to my skin, how much more attention should I pay to someone I’m seeking to disciple? So many times we lead someone in the prayer of salvation and STOP. It is absolutely imperative that we take the time to continue growing the relationship with the person. . .to provide them with resources to aid their spiritual growth. . .to pray for them and with them. . .and to answer questions that arise.
Of course, one of the most important aspects of shaving is that of focus. The perfect shave requires a man to continually look into the mirror, closely examining himself for rough patches and missed spots. The same is true for discipleship. At no point is a believer ever exempt from thoroughly evaluating his own heart and actions. In so doing, he cooperates with the Holy Spirit to bring about the transformation that is the hallmark of the Christian life.
Shaving is one of those things that is best learned by example. I think of a father teaching his young son how best to tackle the job. Disciple-making is really no different. I think of Paul mentoring Timothy — praying for him, encouraging him, modeling the Christian life for him, and allowing him to share in the journey.
The truth of the matter is the process of shaving is a lot easier than the process of disciple-making. But I’ve found that there’s simply no substitute for the feeling that comes from seeing someone enter into a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ.
The good news is that if you’re a believer, then you are likely in the very best position to reach people in your circles of influence. I encourage you today to begin thinking through these four simple steps and making a greater effort to engage those around you for the cause of Christ.
Remember, disciple-making is not a professional skill to be reserved for pastors and staff leaders. It’s a command to all Christians.
Go therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20, NIV
What steps do you need to take today?