Links Daily Devotional

MISTAKES: Lessons learned in 50 years of disciple-making (Part 1)

“Go therefore and disciple all nations.” (Matthew 28:19, NASB)

I sat in the front right seat of the Dodge van. Wally rested his arms on the steering wheel. It was a dark January evening in Palm Springs, the first PGA Tour event of the year.

I had no appetite to say what I had to say. But Rik Massengale, Larry Nelson, Morris Hatalsky and Don Pooley, the other four members of our leadership team for the Tour Fellowship had given me the unpleasant task of “straightening out” Wally Armstrong. He had not taken spiritual leadership in his family and his children were unruly.

All of a sudden I got an idea of how to get into this conversation: “Wally, who do you think is the most important person to reach on the Tour this year?”

He leaned back in his seat and looked at me. “I guess Jack Nicklaus?”

“No,” I clenched my right hand, pointing my index finger at him. “No. It’s you. You’ve let your children run wild.”

The words fired from my mouth like a steel ball from a Civil War cannon. Wally dropped his head. I glanced at my hand. My thumb was pointing back at me.

My chest tightened.

“Wally, I’m so sorry.” I gasped. “It’s not you. It’s me. I need to reach myself. I need to work on my marriage and family as much as you do.” Wally looked up at me, a tear was in his eye. I began to cry. I looked into his face again and tears were flowing over his cheeks.

I learned an important lesson that night. Until that moment, I thought the person I wanted to reach—meaning introduce to Jesus and see them get into a process of becoming a disciple—was a F.A.T. person. One who was Faithful, Available, and Teachable.

My thumb pointed to the one I needed to reach, that is, to bring more fully under the reign of Jesus Christ. Not only in my marriage, but every aspect of my life.

Wally and I made a pact to reach ourselves that evening. We committed ourselves, foremost, to spending quality time alone with God in the Scriptures and prayer before we attempted to reach anyone.

That paradigm shift was a catalyst. That year, 1980, was the year the Lord gave us the idea of the LINKS LETTER and College Golf Fellowship was born during the Western Open in Chicago. This eventually led to the creation of Links Players. And Wally became a good father. And all of his children have done well.

St. Paul wrote to Timothy, his young disciple, “…train yourself for godliness” (1 Timothy 4:7b, ESV).

Almost all followers of Jesus know who the greatest disciple-maker of all time was: Jesus. They also know the great commission he gave us: make disciples. “I have given you an example,” Jesus said, “…do as I have done to you” (John 13:15b, ESV).

My responsibility is to train myself by following his example.

In the months ahead I hope to show you through my mistakes, and lessons learned, how you can become a more effective disciple and disciple-maker.

It begins first by engagement. I hope you will do what I am doing this morning, which is enlist myself into his school of discipleship in hopes that I will become a more Jesus-like disciple. And make disciples as he made disciples.

Jim Hiskey
February 17, 2015
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