Recently I was talking to a group of men about three areas every men’s ministry needs to work on to have an effective and vibrate ministry to men; Know Your Men, Create Multiple Entry Points, and Being Intentional. One of the men asked me, “What do you mean by being intentional?” Well, that is a great question. Dictionary.com describes ‘intentional’ as something that is “done with intention or on purpose.” But for me to help you understand what I mean by intentional I need to share with you some instances we see in the Bible that displays intention and from my own personal life.
First, let’s look at the Bible. There are a few events that come to mind when I think of displays of intentionality in the Bible. One is when Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee and he saw Simon (Peter) and his brother Andrew and he said to them “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men (Matt. 4:18-19). Then Jesus encountered Matthew and said, “Follow me” (Mat. 9:9). Then Jesus called James and his brother John (Mk 1:19-20). Then later Jesus spent the night praying and as a result, he called 12 of his disciples and called them apostles to join him on the journey he was taking (Luk 6:12-16). He called them by name, essentially ‘tapping them on the shoulder,’ and saying: “Follow Me.”
Several times in the gospels we read of Jesus ‘tapping on the shoulder’ Peter, James, and John to accompany him on a certain task (Mat. 17:1; Mar. 5:37; Mar. 14:33; Luk 8:51). Permitting only them to be a participant of an event. Then the most obvious one is when Jesus personally appeared to Saul on the road to Damascus to question Saul why he was persecuting Him and ‘tap on the shoulder’. He instructed Saul (Paul) to continue on his journey to Damascus and there he would be told what to do (Acts 1-6).
Each of these is displays of Jesus being intentional. Essentially tapping individuals on the shoulder of those whom he wanted to pour his life into to prepare them for the ministry he was calling them to.
‘Tapping them on the shoulder’ is a metaphor of personally speaking to the individual about building a relationship around the concept of disciple-making or mentoring in the individual’s walk with God.
By Jesus’ example, we can transfer that to the calling God has placed on all our lives to “Go … and make disciples.” We too have to be intentional in our mission of making disciples. They do not just come to us. Some may approach us on their own but most will not. So we must invite them on the journey just like Jesus did and is still doing. I have experienced this in my own life. I have been ‘Tapped on the shoulder’ and I have been the one who has ‘tapped others on the shoulder.’ Let me share a few.
Many years ago I was talking with a few people after church when Mr. Tommy walked up to me and asked me if I would be interested in attending a Bible study with a few men on Friday mornings at 5:00 am. I accepted. I attended that group for the next three years. It radically changed my life. I grew more in those three years than I had in all the years before since I became a Believer. Through that experience, I gained a new perspective of what it meant to disciple someone else and I learned what Jesus meant when he commanded us to “Go… and make disciples.”
From this experience, I learned to apply Jesus’ method by praying on who I should disciple. God led me to other men too who I reached out and ‘tapped them on the shoulder’ and personally asked them if they would be willing to meet with me to study God’s Word or work through a book that would help enhance spiritual growth. Most of the men that have participated have shared with me how important this became to them. All because I did what Jesus modeled by reaching out and being intentional to individuals He led me to in my relationship with them.
So, what does it mean to be intentional? It means inviting someone to take a journey with you to grow spiritually so they will understand what Jesus meant when he said: “Go… and make disciples.”
All of us are called and commanded to make disciples. Begin praying today for God to lead you to those whom you can ‘Tap on the Shoulder’ and invite them on a journey to grow closer to God. You will be blessed and discover many rewards in your own life when you do.
Together in the adventure and challenge to disciple men – Mike