Your intentions for another person and even your invitations for them to step into benefit do not and should not wrestle away their responsibility of choice. They get to choose whether or not they meet you in your invitations, intentions and advocacy. They can decide to go a different way than the way you propose and it’s not your responsibility to own that choice with them. As I wrote Tuesday, effective advocacy is not always measured by the outcome of consequences from the choices of others.
There were times that I would represent a defendant that was in jail or going to jail. Their life was off track, but their potential was evident. More than once, I would tell that client that when they get out of jail things need to change and they have the capacity for change. “You can’t change by yourself,” I would add. In certain situations, I would offer my business card and invite them to call me when they get out.
Very few actually took me up on that offer. Several did, however, and a few actually followed through with persistence. One, in particular, really went “all in” with responding to my offer and we met weekly for quite a while as he worked on himself, his resume and his situation.
If you want to serve and disciple others, they are going to reject, waffle, wander and disappoint along the way. If that human indecision and imperfection offends or repels you, then your disciple making days may be limited. Those clients that I gave my business cards had to choose to pursue and the burden was on them to come to my office to meet. I wasn’t going to chase them, but I had to be predictable for them to find me. I couldn’t be responsible for their delays and deficiencies and when they were ready, they had to know where I was.
Disciple makers are on mission and they invite others to come along. They aren’t chasing others to convince them of the need to be ministered to, they are serving and advancing in God’s purpose in their life with room for others to come with them. That requires clarity of vision and purpose with consistency of availability. Even when other’s lives are inconsistent, the disciple maker must stay the course of a consistent and predictable availability to receive the prodigal when they return home.