Last year, forced by the state of things, I began shrinking my focus from trying to reach many students and grow the college ministry numerically to focusing intently on the few and discipling the students I was already connected with.
One of those students was named Harper. He was one of very few new students I was able to connect with amid the pandemic, a transfer student who came to play football at TCU. I could tell instantly that Harper really loved Jesus and wanted to surround himself with other followers of Jesus. He also had a vision for helping his teammates know Jesus.
So I invited Harper to be part of a discipleship group I was starting with a couple other guys. I pitched the vision for the group really high - we would practice daily disciplines like personal Bible study, journaling, prayer, and scripture memory, and we would meet weekly for discussion and accountability.
Me and these three guys met each Tuesday morning at 8am to share our lives, talk about scripture, and hold one another accountable.
Along the way, I learned that Harper wasn’t just on the TCU football team, he is actually lined up to be the starting kicker this fall. Here I was discipling this student in the library on campus, only to find out he’s going to be a super star!
This young man who our ministry connected with will soon be on ESPN, not riding the bench, but starting in a unique position on a renowned college football team. For a moment after learning this, I felt like there was a lot of pressure to say or teach just the right things, but then I realized three things:
1) Everyone needs Jesus. A football player isn’t any different from any other student I could disciple. What I mean is that every student God puts in my path is dearly loved, lost in sin, and in need of a Savior. Any pressure telling me this student is more important than others is false.
2) I was already doing the right thing. I don’t mean that I’ve got this figured out and I just know what I’m doing; I mean Jesus told us to make disciples and I was trying to make disciples. I got a few guys together to talk about the Bible and what it means for us. It’s not much, but it’s obedient.
3) Disciple-making isn’t glorious. I led this discipling effort with three students over the course of a whole semester, and nothing amazing happened. The group was small, it didn’t grow, and it wasn’t impressive. But that’s a lot like how Jesus’s discipleship looked - he walked with a small group of guys for a long time and not much came of it until he was gone. I’m not comparing myself to Jesus, I’m just trying to use Him as a model for making disciples. And my small effort to do that led to an opportunity to disciple a student who will probably be recognized by many. Or maybe he won't be recognized. Either way is fine. Like I said, disciple-making isn’t glorious. Because it’s not about bringing us glory, it’s about giving glory to God.
I don’t know what God will do with my efforts, but I know He will work. How can you obediently make disciples and glorify God in your life? I encourage you to take Jesus's command in Matthew 28 to heart and live it out: "Go make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you."