By Shad Berry
Any individual who has endeavored to impart truth and invest in the life of another has spoken these words often.
When I completed Downline I had a clear vision for what I wanted the return on the spiritual investment of my life to look like. There seemed to be a formula that made sense and if carefully followed was guaranteed to produce followers, learners, and reproducers of Jesus Christ.
All I had to do was find faithful people, teach the Truth, share my life, and at the end of a year my pupils would leap at the opportunity to make the same investment in someone else. Then I would repeat the process and within ten years my return would be compounding the world over! Right?
Nearly five years after completing the Downline program, what I had envisioned and what has become my reality are very different. I have made several mistakes, miscalculations, and misjudgments along the way. It’s not that I’m disappointed or even discouraged (I’m not!), but I have come to realize that God is as glorified in the process as He is in the product!
Although the formula has not generated the exact results I had anticipated, at the pace I expected, to the extent I desired – the results are exactly what God anticipated, expected, and desired (and probably better)! The blessings and joy that have been bestowed upon me in my attempts to engage in this lifestyle have far exceeded the “results” I thought I was aiming for. That doesn’t mean I am aiming for different results. My desire is still to influence and build faithful followers, learners, and reproducers of Jesus Christ and I will continue to prepare toward that end. However, it has become obvious to me that not only is He shaping the hearts of those I teach, but He is shaping my heart as well.
I may be stating the obvious, but we are not conducting this “experiment” in a controlled environment. There are countless variables that will influence the process, progress, and the finished product, including our own sin and pride, not to mention the component of spiritual warfare and attack.
I believe it is inevitable that as you seek to fulfill the Great Commission in your life you will be shocked at the variables that will be introduced into the disciple-making equation. They will require you to adjust your short-term expectations, objectives, and timeframes. You will drop your head in disappointment, grit your teeth in frustration, and fold your hands in prayer. “THIS IS HARD!” you will cry. You will question what you are doing, how you are doing it, and what you should do differently. Don’t think for a second that this is not God’s will for you. He will waste nothing done in faith in Jesus Christ, hope in Jesus Christ, and love for Jesus Christ. Be encouraged. Nothing is too wonderful for God!