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On Choosing Disciples

written by Asher Intrater
July 15, 2007

Yeshua (Jesus) prayed all night in order to choose the right disciples (Luke 6:12). What qualities was He looking for? We can learn the answer from the following three examples:

Mark 1 – Yeshua asks the Zebedee brothers to become His disciples, and they agree.
Mark 5 – The man delivered from demons in the Gadarenes asks Yeshua to become a disciple, and Yeshua sends him home instead.
Mark 10 – The rich young ruler is asked by Yeshua to become His disciple, and the man refuses.

What did Yeshua see in the Zebedee brothers that He did not see in the Gaderene man? Why did Yeshua send the Gaderene man home? Why didn’t the young ruler accept Yeshua’s offer?

In trying to follow Yeshua’s example and raise up local Israeli disciples, I asked the question, “Were Yeshua’s disciples His students or His staff or His ministry interns?” The answer is that they were all three. There needs to be a combination of the spiritual issues with the practical ones, the charisma with the character.

The qualities that Yeshua saw in the Zebedee brothers were:

  1. Work Ethic – He saw that they were willing to work hard (diligence). Many young people want to be “in the ministry” but don’t really want to do the hard work that goes along with it.
  2. Team Work – The fishermen worked together as brothers and friends (cooperation). If someone is extremely gifted and anointed, but he can not work as part of a team, he is not ready to be part of the ministry staff.
  3. Under Authority – They worked under the authority of Mr. Zebedee (submission). While we are all equal brothers and sisters before the Lord, if we are to work together, there must be an organizational structure. Refusing to submit to authority basically disqualifies someone from the team.
  4. Over Authority – There were other employees working in their fishing business. They had to know how to assign them tasks and oversee their work (delegation). This requires a combination of the three qualities just listed.
  5. Constructive Attitude – The men were repairing and cleaning the nets (servanthood). Many problems arise in the ministry. Team members must have a “problem solving” mentality, willing to “fix” and not just complain.

We are not talking here about a disciple in the general sense of being “saved”, but a disciple serving on a ministry team. The same rules could apply in looking for someone to be hired in a business.

One of the key elements of the Zebedee brothers was their family relations. They were working with relatives and even their father. Part of fulfilling one’s destiny in the Lord is to be healed on the inside of wounds from previous relationships. One does not have to work in his dad’s business, but he must have a basic level of forgiveness and inner healing from his past.

The man from the Gaderenes was in many ways “more spiritual” than the Galilean fishermen. He was zealous. He had a miraculous testimony. He immediately went out and preached in ten cities. Many today might think that he had a more “successful Ministry” than John and James (at least in the first years). But Yeshua was looking for long term character development and not just testimonies for a newsletter.

Yeshua sent him home, not to disqualify him, but to develop him. Had he submitted to that process, he might have become one of the leaders of the First Century revival and the book of Acts community of faith.

Often people with a great calling on their life cannot restrain the outward ministry for the time necessary to deal with healing and character issues. They run forward, usually jumping from one ministry project to another, but in the long run there is less fruit than if they had been willing to go through the right preparation.

We as leaders must have a burning desire to equip and release the younger generation into their calling and ministry. We dare not hold them back. Yet at the same time we must look for those who have the patience and integrity to be transformed from the Gadarene stage to the Zebedee stage.

Yeshua did see those character qualities in the rich young ruler. Here the problem was the opposite. Because he was successful in this world, he was not willing to make the sacrifices required to follow Yeshua. Many today are withholding their dedication to the Lord because of such basic issues as comfortable lifestyle, material possessions, reputation and recreation.

No doubt the “success” level of the rich young ruler seemed higher than that of the Galilean fishermen. But God measures success not by what we have (Luke 12:15) but by what we give (Luke 21:4). Some believe that this man did repent later, selling his possessions to lay them at the apostles feet (Acts 4:36).

Let us not be so “super spiritual” like the Gaderene man, that we are not willing to go through the stages of character development. Let us not be so “success oriented” like the rich young ruler, that we miss the sacrificial dedication needed to be a true disciple. Let us be like Yeshua’s disciples, who were called from being fishermen to fishers of men.

Asher serves as president of Tikkun Global family of ministries and congregations, dedicated to the dual restoration of Israel and the Church. He is founder of the Revive Israel five-fold ministry team, and oversees both Ahavat Yeshua and Tiferet Yeshua congregations in Israel.

He and his wife Betty share a passion for personal prayer and devotion, local evangelism and discipleship in Hebrew, and unity of the Body of believers worldwide.

Asher was raised in a conservative Jewish home and holds degrees from Harvard University, Baltimore Hebrew College and Messiah Biblical Institute. He has authored numerous books, tracts and articles.

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