Finding Your Zaccheus

A key discipleship question is, “Whom should I invest in?” For those who would like to disciple others, coming alongside to help them take the next step in their spiritual journey, the initial question is not what, but with whom?

When my discretionary time is limited, I need discernment to invest wisely. I want to avoid investing in those who are not interested in what I have to offer or only have a casual interest that will be temporary at best. I have started mentoring relationships with some, only to discover they were not serious. Consequently, they were unmotivated, undependable, and unfaithful. Those mentorships eventually fell apart.

A few failures motivated me to ask the question, “Are there some initial indicators that can predict a better outcome?” That’s when the story of Zacchaeus came in handy.

Jesus entered the city of Jericho, where crowds of people were following Him. At this point in Christ’s ministry, He often drew a crowd to listen to His teaching or experience a miracle of healing. Although Jesus taught the multitudes, He didn’t trust them. He knew their interest was self-serving and fickle. But He used the crowds as a fishing pool to find individuals for more focused attention.

Zacchaeus was one of those who stood out. Zach was not content to hang out with the crowd; he wanted a better view. So he made the effort to find a better observation platform: a tree. Jesus recognized his effort and singled him out for a home visit. The result was a transformed life.

Here are some questions to ask when looking for a person in whom to invest.

  • Does God seem to be working in her life?
  • Does he ask more questions than the average person in the Bible study?
  • Does she express a hunger to know the Scripture?
  • Does he ask questions about core life issues?
  • Does she show dissatisfaction with her current spiritual experience?

I am looking for a Zacchaeus in a tree.

Once I find someone who is a possibility, I ask if I can “come to their house for dinner”—not actually, but figuratively. I ask if we can visit sometime to learn more about their spiritual journey. After we have shared our personal stories, I ask another series of questions.

  1. Where are you in your relationship with Christ? On a scale of 1 to 10, where are you right now?
  2. Where would you like to be on that 1-to-10 scale? What would that look like?
  3. Would you like help from someone?
  4. Would you like my help?

Sometimes people are stuck in a life issue and want help. It could be a marriage issue, a broken relationship, work-related friction, or a strained relationship with their kids. If this is the case, I explain that we can explore what the Bible has to say about that issue, but along with it, I want to help them develop their walk with Christ. If we only deal with the current symptom, relief will just be temporary. Sometimes people need the emergency room, but long term, they need a health club to make the ER visits less frequent.

Do you know a Zacchaeus? Ask God if He is leading you to invest in that person.

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