I’ve just returned from Albuquerque, New Mexico, where I got together with two pastors and a giant in ministry. I got to meet John Burton though a friend of mine who is committed to making disciples in one on one relationships. I’ve long been committed to small groups, but I’ve not always done well with discipling one on one. It’s not that I’m not equipped to do it. It’s the fact that I can manage people and groups easier in groups. I love those small groups. I’m committed to them. But I’ve realized from John Burton that “you can’t steal second base.” When I heard John say this I was like “what?” He answered me and explained what he meant.
What John was saying is this ….
There are some rules in spiritual growth that cannot be rushed through.
We often want results right away. In church life we want growth and success and we want it now. Numbers are important to God. Numbers are people. They show us effectiveness at some level. But there is a danger. In our rush for success numerically we forget spiritual success comes from maturity. There is no lasting abiding fruit when we try to rush through what is supposed to mature through time and process. In other words, you cannot steal second base. You cannot rush spiritual maturity. There are laws that govern spiritual growth. Jesus took three years with 12 men and a few other women. He did not rush. He took His time. And it paid off.
Stealing second is cheating in the spiritual life.
When we steal second base we try to get maturity that we have not earned. We cheat the process. Weather in groups or in one on one disciple making, doing it too fast is cheating. There is a process that must be followed. There are implications from cheating in pursuing spiritual maturity.
- Rushed maturity can put disciples in leadership positions they are not really ready to handle.
- Rushed maturity leads to an example that makes others think they can do the same.
- Rushed maturity results in spoiled spiritual fruit because it was rushed to harvest.
Advancing forward to second base is best when someone else gets you there.
As stated above, Jesus took His twelve through a process of life for three years. He had three special ones that He spent even more time with – can you name them? Peter, James and John. And in a span of three years, we know Jesus spent a good deal of time with each of the twelve. He knew them He knew there personalities, gifts and passions. Yes, He even knew their weaknesses. Yet at the end of the training He commissioned them. He placed them in task and history in ways He could only know. He placed them into the body of Christ, each in his own unique way for a special impact. Jesus is the One who got them forward in life and effective in their call to ministry. Jesus was the reason for their success.
You cannot steal second base in the game of spiritual life. Stop trying to steal second. Commit to the work that advances people to the next step in spiritual maturity.