Discipleship: Focus on Quantity, not Quality, Time

I recently had the privilege of sitting down for a meal with one of my greatest mentors. We had a long discussion centered on how Jesus was impacting our lives and how we were both simply attempting to be examples of Christ to those around us. It was a great meal, great conversation, and was quality time spent in fellowship.

One of the things I hear a lot today though, and is something we discussed together during our meal, is the importance of spending time with people you love. The trouble for me, and what I have found true for many people, is that quality time is really hard to come by. In our fast-paced lives we work a 7-6 (forget the good ol’ days where 9-5 seemed ridiculous), have to handle life issues, run errands, cook meals, and see to our family’s needs. The reality is, far too often we are so busy that quality time is a luxury we simply don’t have.

As I shared with my mentor over dinner, we spent a lot of time focused on the disciples. We noted how the disciples spent a lot of quantity time with Jesus. Sure, there were moments when Jesus really dug in for some quality one-on-one teaching. However, a majority of the disciples learning came during quantity time – while they were hanging out with Jesus while He did His thing. While we might not see this as quality time, the disciples learned a lot from the opportunities that presented themselves during these times. To put it another way, it’s much akin to parenting. While we want the focus to be on quality time, most of our relationship with our kids is quantity time – time spent walking around the grocery store, on the way to a soccer match, or at the hospital after they break their arm on the neighbor’s trampoline. The reality is, some of the biggest breakthroughs happen during these times – a conversation comes up and our “parenting” kicks in as we help our children grow and become mature. Jesus did the exact same thing with His disciples.

Out of bread with 5,000 people around? Jesus snatches up the opportunity to teach the disciples something.

Travelling by boat and a storm hits? Ah, the perfect chance for another lesson.

As many of us seek to impact others and share how Jesus has changed our lives, it is essential that we spend quantity time with people. Just as Jesus spent time with His disciples, we must work practice discipleship with those around us through quantity time. Spiritual parenting isn’t something that we can simply schedule on a calendar – it’s not a lunch break where you have to be in and out in forty-five minutes, feeling pressure to leave the person with a spiritual nugget to think upon. No, it’s inviting people to live life alongside you, it’s driving across town and when someone cuts you off, being an example to the passenger of how you react. Its inviting people into your home for a meal and having them watch as you model what a Godly marriage looks like. It’s throwing the football around and inviting the guy nose deep in a book to join you simply because he looks left out.

Jesus modeled for us what it means to impact someone for Him throughout the gospel – discipleship wasn’t a business relationship, it was a fathering relationship. Just as if He was a parent, He spent lots of quantity time with those around him and impacted them within the rhythms of life. So… here is my challenge to you today – how can you spend more time with people around you, impacting them in a positive way by your Christ-like example? This simple change might be all you need to wildly change what your personal ministry to the people you care about most looks like today!