All of us are called to make disciples by pouring into the lives of other people and pointing them to Christ, but we do not always see the fruit of our labor.
Robby Gallaty, lead pastor of Long Hollow Baptist Church and editor of the CSB Disciple’s Study Bible, has dedicated his life training disciples of Jesus to make disciples. Check out his testimony below and what fueled his passion for discipleship (or watch video starting at 6:10).
A Passion for Discipleship
I was raised in a very Roman Catholic family—half Italian. We were very religious. We went to church on Sunday, and if we missed church on Sunday, we went to confession on Saturday.
But here is how I lived: After I left church on Sunday, I lived like I wanted Monday through Saturday. And then I went back in church and expected the peace of God to come over me. That doesn’t just happen in the Catholic church. That happens all churches. People live like they want all week long and then expect the peace of God to come over them on Sunday.
“I lived like I wanted Monday through Saturday. And then I went back in church and expected the peace of God to come over me.”
I knew who Jesus was, but I didn’t have a relationship with him. I went to college to play basketball. I had a scholarship to UNC Greensboro. And the girl I was dating at the time threw a fit. She said that there’s no way you’re going that far away. You need to go close to home. I thought I was in love, right? I was in high school. So I opened the phone book up and turned to William Carey College. I didn’t know of this school. I didn’t know who William Carey was. I didn’t know he was a missionary.
So I go to the coach and he hesitantly let me try out for the team. Two weeks before school starts, he gives me a full scholarship to come play basketball. Two weeks into the semester, the girl I’m dating breaks up with me. She thinks I’m cheating on her, which I wasn’t, but I’m stuck now. I’m stuck as a Roman Catholic on the campus of a Southern Baptist college. And if you don’t know what that means, I was like the target of every evangelism class on campus. I would hear the gospel, but I would reject the gospel.
Fast forward, I get out of college in 1998. I had a network marketing company that I got into at 19—kind of like Amway or Excel. I thought I was going to be a millionaire by 25 like Tony Robbins, Zig Ziglar, Les Brown. But the business went belly up. It was a pyramid scheme.
“A guy pulled a gun on me in the parking lot and I decided I need a career change.”
I got so burnt out with business that I started to train Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. It’s this no-hold-bars UFC fighting. I’m 6’6, 290 pounds. I was at a restaurant one night, and a guy came up to me. And he said, “Hey man, would you be interested in being the head bouncer of my club downtown New Orleans in the middle of Mardi Gras?”
I said, “Let me get this straight, you’re going to pay me to get in a fight? I’m in.” That seemed like a good business opportunity. And so I did that for a couple months—until a guy pulled a gun on me in the parking lot, and I decided I need a career change. So I went from bouncing to bartending. It seemed like a good opportunity. Outside to inside the club.
I’m driving home from work November 22, 1999 when my whole life changed. An 18-wheeler comes across two lanes of traffic and slams my car into the guardrail at 65 mph. The seat belt locks, my back twerks, and I herniate two discs in my neck and two in my back. I was 22 years old, and I had never taken drugs before. The doctor sent me home with four prescriptions: Oxycontin, valium, soma, and percocet.
“Within three months, I’m addicted to pharmaceutical drugs.”
Within three months, I’m addicted to pharmaceutical drugs. When I robbed my whole family for $15,000, my mom found out about what happened. My mom called and said. “Robby, we found out about what you did. Your father’s furious. I’m disappointed. Don’t you ever come to this house again.” And thank God for this tough love because I believe it saved my life.
For that three month period—from the time I hung the phone up to the time I asked for their forgiveness—I lived without gas, electricity, and water. It was literally hell on earth.
My mom exercised tough love, which brought me to a place of absolute brokenness, where I had to turn to the Lord. Here’s a line I want you to get: If you keep being their savior, Jesus never can be.
See, the reason I ultimately turned to the Lord is because I had exhausted every other option. I couldn’t turn to my mom, to the world, to self-help. I had to turn to the Lord. I knew that I was a sinner, that I didn’t live a perfect life. But I knew someone who did.
For the first time, I realized that Jesus lived the life that I couldn’t live and he died a death I should have died. And right there in my room, I had this radical Paul-like conversion, where I got on my knees and I had this 24-hour experience with the Lord.
“The day I was saved, I knew I was called into ministry.”
The day I was saved, I knew I was called into ministry. That was November 12, 2002. I wandered for the next 8 months. I didn’t know how to read the Bible, and I didn’t know how to pray.
I’m at church one Sunday, and a guy walks across the campus and he says, “Hey, I’ve heard you want to be discipled. Do you want to meet once a week to study the Bible and memorize Scripture and pray?” His name was David Platt. Now some may know him. He’s the New York Times best-selling author of Radical, and he was the president of the International Mission Board. But back then he was a seminary student. We met for the next two years, and David invested in me.
“I often ask myself, how different would my life be if David wouldn’t have invested in me?”
I often ask myself, how different would my life be if David wouldn’t have invested in me? Here’s the bigger question: How different would the lives of those around us be if we got passionate about discipling our families, co-workers, and our friends? I think we would start to see a New Testament environment around us.
So that’s why I’m so passionate about making disciples. Because I’m the product of discipleship.
Want to grow as a disciple of Jesus or be encouraged as you are used to make disciples? Check out the CSB Disciple’s Study Bible and become a disciple who makes disciples.