Make leaders, or make disciples?

While visiting a Swiss town, an American businessman watched a man painstakingly carving the casing for one of the fine, hand-crafted cuckoo clocks made in that region.

Noting the slow rate of progress, the businessman said, “My good man, you’ll never make much money that way!”

“Sir,” the clock maker replied, “I’m not making money, I’m making cuckoo clocks.”

Like any great artist or craftsman, the clock-maker was focused on the excellence of his work rather than being (like the businessman) distracted by dreams of profits. The clock maker excelled at what he did because he didn’t lose sight of what his primary goal was, and his profits would come because he stayed focused on the quality of his craftsmanship.

Such a focus on purpose is too often not shared with many church leaders. The pervasive mantra among many church leaders today is for leaders to be busy making other leaders. It’s a very different message and focus from that which Jesus Christ gave the church. Jesus commanded us to go make disciples, not other leaders. That’s because Jesus understood that by making a disciple, and then discipling that person to spiritual maturity, you will routinely be growing other leaders from that maturing process.

Instead, many of today’s leaders do little discipling, and instead focus on “mentoring” others to be “leaders.” The result may be someone trained in a version of “leadership” (often a view of leadership that is sourced more from the business world than the Word) but not discipled to any real level of maturity.

You know you’re thoroughly off course from Christ’s desire for His church when you have undiscipled, biblically ignorant, unequipped, and spiritually immature people who have been mentored to be leaders in the church.

Imagine what the church could be like if we only obeyed what Jesus told us to do — if we made disciples, and then taught them everything He taught as part of discipling them, and equipped them to do the good works He has planned for us to do (Matthew 28:18-20, Ephesians 4:11-13). Out of that spiritual growth and equipping leaders would organically, naturally step forward! And those people would be more spiritually mature, and better equipped to serve, than the undiscipled but mentored “leaders” we are routinely turning out today.

This post will prompt a frenzy of rationalizations and wholly unbiblical arguments from some about the “necessity” and “critical need” for leaders to spend their time making other leaders. Such arguments don’t change the fact that Jesus never called us to be leader makers, He called us to be disciple makers … just like He was!