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Editor’s Note: This is the third article of a three-part series on how to develop disciples who will, in turn, make disciples of others. Click here to read the first article and here to read the second article. Bruce Zachary will provide an overview of this process during the workshop on Intentional Relational Leadership at the CGN International Conference June 23-26 in Costa Mesa, California. In addition, you can read Bruce’s free ebook on “Intentional Relational Leadership” ahead of time by clicking the link here.

“And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful people who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2).

There are some disciple-making principles that are effective and replicable regardless of culture. The essence of developing disciples who will disciple others requires each of us to engage, equip, empower, and evaluate. In an earlier article, we considered how to engage and equip, now let us learn how to empower and evaluate.


A. Empower:

Here, a more experienced leader is contemplating how to strengthen a developing leader to take steps of faith to grow as a leader who will develop other leaders.

1. Clearly communicate the mission (responsibility). When Jesus sent out the twelve for the first time, He clearly communicated their mission to proclaim the kingdom, heal the sick, cleanse lepers, raise the dead, and cast out demons. There was a clear understanding of their responsibility. Jesus gave instruction and guidance about how to do what He called them to do, and warnings about some of the challenges they would encounter (Matt. 10). Thus, we discover some general principles:

a. Help people discover what God has called them to do.
b. Help them to appreciate their responsibility to God.
c. Provide some guidance and instruction re how to do.
d. Advise about some known challenges.

2. Confirm authority. When Jesus sent out the twelve, He conferred power and authority to do what He called them to do (Matt. 10:1). Responsibility without authority is a hindrance and obstacle to developing leaders. Experienced leaders encourage developing leaders to discover experiential knowledge of the theological truth that whatever God commands, He empowers.

Creating leadership cultures where people move from micro- to macro-management as quickly as reasonable involves conferring authority commensurate with responsibility, and track record. Development will require releasing authority beyond proven ability, but with an awareness of projected capacity (present and future).

For example, imagine I have 100 eggs that I want to get to the farmers’ market on a particular day, and specific time, and most important, without cracking. You offer to deliver the eggs. If you and I have never worked together, I am very unlikely to trust you with all 100 eggs. On the other hand, if you have some good references confirming your work, I am likely to trust you with more eggs, yet perhaps not all 100. If we begin our relationship without a reference, and I put some eggs in your basket and you get the job done on time, without breaking the eggs, I am likely to put more eggs in your basket. Through our interactions, I am trying to assess: Are you a 25, 50, 75, or 100 egg person? If I have concluded, relatively early, that you have 100 egg capacity, then I want to empower you to move from 10 towards 100 level responsibility and authority as quickly as reasonable.

As an aside, when Jesus sent out the twelve, He gave authority to proclaim the kingdom, heal the sick, cure diseases, and exercise authority over demons (Lu. 9:1-2). That is some significant authority for a group that was not fully proven. Matthew’s account notes authority conferred to cleanse lepers and raise the dead (Matt.10:8-9, emphasis mine).

3. Encourage. The people that you are helping to develop are likely to struggle with their insecurities, feelings of inadequacy, fears, and doubts. Sincere words of affirmation are life-giving and empowering to developing leaders.

The Father affirms the Son as “well-pleasing” at the beginning of His earthly ministry and as He transitioned towards Jerusalem and the cross (Matt. 3:17, 17:5). These significant rite of passage moments were showered in affirmation, approval, and acceptance.

Similarly, when Jesus gave His “commencement address” in the Upper Room, He assured His disciples that they would do greater works than He (Jn. 14:12). This was not hyperbolic fluff to make them feel good about themselves, but prophetic. Presumably, at the time these words were declared, their significance could not be apprehended, but undoubtedly those words encouraged, affirmed, and helped empower them for the work their Master had ordained.


B. Evaluate:

1. What progress has been made? It is necessary to evaluate progress to ensure accountability; however, progress is not perfection. In a healthy discipling relationship there are agreed upon reasonable expectations. The expectations are not etched in granite and can be adjusted. Nevertheless, they are not to be ignored.

Luke records Jesus sending out the seventy, and them rejoicing when they returned and reported the results. Yet, in the midst of a very successful performance of the tasks, Jesus reminded them of spiritual truths that were more important than their performance of the tasks (Lu. 10:1-12, 17-20). So, as you evaluate tasks, do not neglect spiritual growth.

Action Items that are to be performed between meetings provide a means to measure progress. Whether there is one task that was 75% completed, or three of four tasks that were accomplished, there is meaningful progress. On the other hand, a neglect of tasks, or failure to perform Action Items, without a reasonable justification may reveal issues. For example, the tasks may be too complex or too burdensome for the disciple during this season of their life; or the disciple did not manage their time as well as they hoped, or did not appreciate the amount of work required. Similarly, repeated neglect, or failure to make meaningful progress, may reveal a lack of motivation or passion to develop as a leader. There may come a time when a repeated lack of effort, and lack of progress justifies withdrawing from the process, but there should be ample opportunity given to demonstrate progress.

Frequently, there is a reasonable justification for hindered progress. Life is complex, and the leaders that you are developing are navigating their expanding responsibilities as growing kingdom leaders in addition to all of the other competing claims to their time, attention, and affections. Seek to be sensitive and compassionate as you discover and evaluate.

As an experienced leader, especially those who are more task-oriented and adroit at accomplishing tasks, there is likely to be a greater focus on tasks and development of proficiency as opposed to cultivating relationship between the disciple and mentor. Celebrate progress, encourage development, and continue to create accountability without abandoning the process.

2. Where is continued development a priority? During the process of development, targeted areas of growth will shift. The disciple may have gained proficiency in certain areas and no longer need to focus upon those areas. Similarly, their ministry context may have changed, and new contexts create new priorities to target for development. Evaluating progress, needs, and contexts will help to determine priorities for development. Thus, assessment should influence where energies and efforts are allocated moving forward.

3. Desired new destinations? As you evaluate, you may discover that at the end of the proposed term (e.g., one year) that you actually arrived at the desired destination. As an aside and a reminder, it generally takes longer than expected. So, when you arrive at the proverbial mountaintop, consider if there is another summit that the disciple wants to scale with your assistance.

Upcoming Workshop on Intentional Relational Leadership

So, as we contemplate a disciple-making process, we need to better understand how to effectively engage, equip, empower, and evaluate like Jesus did with His disciples. If you want to learn how to make disciples more effectively, please join me for a workshop at the Calvary Global Network (CGN) International Conference, and we can discover together the personal and kingdom benefits of intentional relational leadership.

Bruce Zachary was raised in a Jewish home and has been a follower of Jesus for more than 30 years. Bruce was an attorney for 25 years and has been an ordained pastor since 1995. In 1996, he planted Calvary Nexus, a Calvary Chapel church in Camarillo, California, where he continues serving as teaching and leader development pastor. Bruce has authored 18 books and directed a global church planting initiative in the Calvary Chapel movement. In addition, Bruce continues to serve in a leadership role within the Calvary Global Network as a member of the CGN Executive Team and core initiative Cultivate team.