Measuring Fruitfulness

Have you ever been “ruined for the ordinary” by something someone said—a passing comment—an unusual insight or words spoken directly to you that resonated deep inside and marked your life?  I had such an occurrence—a divine moment that shaped my life—at 40,000 feet in the air between Los Angeles and Washington, DC in April of 1980.

At the time, I was twenty years old and serving with Youth With a Mission (YWAM).  I had been involved leading a weekly youth ministry on eight high school campuses.  Each summer, we also hosted several Discipleship Camps where we spent eight hours a day for twelve days discipling students and their youth pastors in the ways of God. One morning, while flying from Los Angeles to Washington DC with Loren Cunningham (the founder of YWAM), he asked me a question: “Dave, what do you think your spiritual gifts are?”  To be honest, at twenty years of age, I was still in the process of figuring that out for myself!  I hemmed and hawed a bit, taking my best shot at it based on what I knew and understood at the time.

Loren had observed me leading the youth ministry for several years.  In light of that, he began to share with me what he thought my gifts were and some practical ways to grow and develop them.  Then he spoke the following words, and with them came my “ruined for the ordinary” moment:

            “You know, Dave, it really isn’t important how big the organizations are that you will lead, or the size of the groups that you will teach.  The way that God will measure the fruitfulness of your life is how you invested to the third and fourth generations.”

He began to explain to me that he was not speaking of generations usually divided in to forty-year increments, but rather the generations referred to in 2 Timothy.

            “…and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” 2 Timothy 2:2

Here is the key to measuring fruitfulness: reproducing disciples who reproduce others.  Am I (1st generation) so discipling Stan (2nd generation) that the truths he is learning are being fully incarnated within his own life?  Is he, in turn pouring the same into Marty (3rd generation), who then invests in Barry (4th generation)?

An on and on it goes, as each one disciples another: impacting people, families, domains of culture, entire nations, and multiple generations.

So, my friend, how are you doing in regards to your fruitfulness? In whom are you investing your life? Settle it today. Live your life in light of the 3rd and 4th generations.