The Apostle Paul writes a second letter to Timothy, and he says,
“Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.” (2 Timothy 4:2 NIV – 2011)
First – you are sharing the word of God. The Bible is living and active, and it penetrates the soul of a person. It slices, punctures, and is painful for people to hear at times.
Second – sometimes our words are “out of season.” That means we are attempting to help people grow in their faith when no one is taking growth seriously.
Third – our teaching of the word will contain correction. There are people in the community of faith who are teaching incorrectly. They need to be told they are wrong and shown the truth and how to understand it.
Fourth – growth will sometimes require rebuke. Occasionally, people will need to be reprimanded for bad behavior. The word implies harsh words and intense tones.
All these combine to make discipleship difficult. Most Church people want growth to be easy and focused on the final word in this passage: encourage. Unfortunately, that is only a tiny part of helping people grow; the rest of it puts leaders at risk of being hated by the people they lead. If people are unwilling to accept the word, their heart is out of season, and they will not listen to correction or rebuking, then the work of discipleship can turn ugly.
I believe this is why his instructions at the end are so powerful to anyone who wants to help other people grow in their faith. The work of discipleship takes great patience and careful instruction. The project is slow and tedious, but nothing can be more rewarding. Making someone a disciple is challenging but worth all the headaches.