How Christian Athletes Can Live Out the Great Commission
Multiply your life by impacting the world one person at a time
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I have been fortunate enough to see 2 Timothy 2:2 come alive in my years in ministry. It says: “and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.” I saw it happen while I was in college and beyond, so I know it is possible to see it happen for you, too.
God created us to multiply. God uses our unique backgrounds, experiences, and passions to pour into others so that they can also pour into others. Multiplying my life into others has been one of the most exciting, humbling and fulfilling things I’ve done with my time. My time is God’s time anyway, so I might as well align it to His heart. And His heart is about multiplication so that He can receive the worship He so greatly deserves throughout all corners of the earth.
In the verse above, Paul is encouraging the one he disciples, Timothy, to teach faithful men what he has learned in discipleship so they can teach others also. Here we see four generations of disciple-makers. It is possible to see this happen in your life.
God commands us to not just share the gospel or to be good Christians, but to actually be disciple-makers. If we develop true disciples of Christ, and if those we invest in are faithful, they will multiply their lives. It may look different each time, and we may not see it while we are the ones discipling them, but true disciples of Jesus do multiply their lives into others.
Here are some things I’ve done and kept in front of me as I aim to multiply my life:
SHARE THE GOSPEL
When I shared the gospel with my sorority sisters while in college, my friend Sarah accepted Christ. That same week she asked me how she could share the gospel, and she started to share the gospel fiercely with more of our sorority sisters. I got to help Sarah with that decision, and I had the honor of discipling her for years and equipping her to disciple others.
SEE THE BIG PICTURE
We need to encourage people with a big vision for their lives. By truly believing that God desires to use people for His glory, we can empower people to step into the good works that God is calling them to! God desires to use people from every tribe, tongue, and nation from all corners of the globe for His glory. We need to have this global vision and instill it in others.
Start with a vision for reaching your teammates, then your campus, then your city, then the world. After I share the gospel with someone, usually the next time we meet, if they’ve accepted Christ, I share with them basic follow-up about their security in their relationship with Christ, and then I share with them Matt 28:16-20 (The Great Commission). People are mobilized and excited by vision! Paint your friends and teammates an inspiring vision of how God could specifically use their gifts, talents, personality, and passions to bring Himself glory as they invest in others.
When I was in college, I went to a conference where I heard that I could take part in this amazing work that God has for us to reach every tribe, tongue, and nation. God used the speaker (among other things in my life) to cast such great vision for me that I decided to move to India to be a missionary. We don’t all need to move overseas to be part of this vision! We just need to realize that we are part of God’s global plan and we need to cultivate a heart for reaching teammates, friends, college, country, and world for Jesus!
I grew up in the Netherlands, and thinking about my international friends being reached with the gospel excites me. Having huge global vision by starting with vision for your team empowers those you disciple to truly run after God’s heart for multiplication.
2 Timothy 2:2
and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.
USE RESOURCES TO EQUIP
If we and those we lead are disciples of Christ, we need to grow in these four areas: evangelism (witnessing), reading the Bible (the Word), prayer, and fellowship (discipleship, accountability etc). I use this as a tool to gauge which areas the athletes I invest in need to grow. If the person you’re discipling needs to learn how to consistently read the Bible, read scripture during your time together. If they have no idea how to share the gospel, use the Knowing God Personally (KGP) booklet to equip them, and share the gospel together. Your disciple will have an easier time if you model these things for them. Be an example in these four areas.
CHALLENGE AND INVITE
If we only invite people into our lives for relationship but don’t challenge them in personal growth and in making disciples of Christ, then they may lose interest and invest their time in other things besides making disciples.
If we only challenge people to discipleship, but don’t invite them in to be part of our lives, there may be a lack of authenticity and trust between you and them and between them and the people they invest in. The discipleship chain will be more of a business transaction and less of a relationship.
We need to have both these things. Our lives need to be woven into God’s heart of making disciples, and when we invite our friends and teammates into that, we can challenge them to grow, lead, and invest in others with trust, love and authenticity. Real people make real disciples of Jesus.
PRESERVE THROUGH PRAYER
Psalm 127: 1, “Unless the Lord builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the watchman stays awake in vain.”
How true it is that apart from God we can do nothing. No labor of making disciples will be lasting apart from dependence on God’s Spirit. The foundation of our labor will be weak, self-focused, and impermanent. I’ve made disciples on a shaky foundation, and although the result may seem steadfast on the surface, their commitment to be disciples and make disciples did not last.
Pray, pray, pray.
Pray for strength and for God to refresh your soul in this work of making disciples. We may not see how God uses our investment in people for years, but that doesn’t mean that the investment isn’t worth it! It takes time to see change and growth. Be patient and persevere. Galatians 6:9 says: ”And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Don’t lose heart! A harvest of disciple-makers is waiting.
Pray for laborers. Matthew 9:35-38 says: “And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
Let’s have compassion on those around us, pray for laborers and be obedient to make disciples who will make disciples. All God is looking for is a willing heart!
God uses our unique backgrounds, experiences, and passions to pour into others so that they can also pour into others.
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