A former California lifeguard, Neil Cole, tells this story.

For several years I worked as a lifeguard on the beaches of Southern California. Lifeguards have one prime directive: to save lives. They also have many other tasks to do on the side and they are paid to do all of them. One of the other regular duties I had was to climb down and tell kids to get off the rocks because they’re dangerous.

Even as I was doing that, I had been so trained to keep my focus on the prime directive of saving lives and be constantly scanning the water, that instinctively, while I was telling the kids to get off the rocks, I glanced down the beach. As I did so, I saw two little hands quickly being washed out to the ocean in a gutter rip.

If I had not been busy doing the tasks I was supposed to be doing, I would not have been close enough to make this rescue. However, at the same time I kept the prime directive foremost in my mind and looked to see if there were any lives that needed to be saved. Pastors, it’s important to do the things that you do, but don’t forget the most important thing: the prime directive of making disciples. Take the time to look out into the harvest field and see if there are people who need to be rescued.

In his book, Ordinary Hero: Becoming a Disciple Who Makes a Difference, Neil Cole weaves together his personal experiences of saving lives with biblical principles for how to make and multiply disciples. You can see his tenacious focus on making disciples– the prime directive– throughout.