Thursday, June 5, 2008

Broader Vision of Discipleship

Over the past several weeks the Lord has given me a whole new vision of discipleship. I used to think of it as something so concrete, structured, and formulated. More or less as something that you could break down into a 10 or 7 step plan and duplicate over and over again. That discipleship had to involve two people sitting down together, intentionally, having agreed to a discipleship relationship and studying the Bible or doing some other sort of study material. I still think that at times discipleship may involve sitting down and studying God’s Word together (and some or all of those other aspects), but my whole outlook has been expanded. The Lord has shown me that discipleship isn’t just one on one time sitting down and studying the Bible. I’ve realized that a lot of discipleship occurs along the process of just living and sharing every day life together. I’ve realized that not all times has “discipleship” been discussed between the people involved, or are they even aware that it’s going on. I’ve realized that in my life I was discipled at times without even being aware that it was going on. That I’ve discipled others without intending to, or without them being aware of it, but by just sharing life together, growing in our study of God’s Word, praying, admonishing, encouraging, holding others accountable and more. I’ve come to realize that I’ve had more Paul’s and Timothy’s in my life then I was aware of at those times.

In writing this blog I probably need to define some terms. I’m going to borrow Doug Dorman’s definitions from a recent flyer for the Your Next Step Institute. He defines a disciple as a fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ. He defines discipleship as the process of spiritual mentoring.

So how did this whole change in my outlook occur? First of all I needed to write a testimony of my personal experience of having been discipled for some material that Doug and Joan are making for Your Next Step. In doing so I realized that the most significant times that I had to recall were moments that I had with Joan in which we would talk while cleaning up the kitchen after dinner, or while we chatted while she gave her mother-in-law her breathing treatment, or just hanging out at her house with her, her husband, and her 7 kids and seeing how a wife and mother can gracefully handle a house full of 7 kids, a husband, a live-in mother-in-law and all of the crazy bumps in the road that come up. Joan’s character shone through to me just in seeing her live out her every day life, and that taught me more than I was realizing. At church Doug read another guy’s testimony of how discipleship from Your Next Step impacted him and it all had to do with his life being changed and growing while Doug taught him how to drive stick and play tennis. That stuck out to me. To both me and this other guy, the most significant parts of discipleship were just happening along the way of every day life. They were happening because the Dorman’s were willing to be transparent, open up their home, invite people into their home, family and life and share it all with others. It went along the lines of what one of my favorite Perspectives instructors had said (Kathleen Boggart). She said that you don’t have to create extra time to set aside to disciple/ build into people (these days who has extra time anyway?), she said that you just sweep those people into whatever you are doing. Ladies, are you going to the grocery store? Call another woman, have her go with you and chat along the way while you complete your necessary errands. Gentlemen, going to get an oil change and going to be sitting and waiting (or going to be changing your oil)? Invite another fella to join you. It’s as simple as that. Not to mention add in things like sharing meals, shared interests, sports, activities etc. and you’re all set. Now we all have the time to be discipling others. This week I read an article in Proverbs 31 magazine where a woman had a couple friends who didn’t have the time to get together for Bible study, and they’d all gotten so busy that their exercise routines were suffering. They started getting up early in the morning and read through the Purpose Driven Life. They would walk together each morning and discuss the reading. It was only a 40 day commitment and study that she said changed all of their lives.

The great commission is to all of us, we are all called to be faithful stewards with what has been entrusted to us and to go and make disciples. Pray for God to bring you the faithful people to disciple and He will.

Matthew 28:18-20 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Titus 2:2-8 Teach the older men to exercise self-control, to be worthy of respect, and to live wisely. They must have sound faith and be filled with love and patience. Similarly, teach the older women to live in a way that honors God. They must not slander others or be heavy drinkers. Instead, they should teach others what is good. These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God. In the same way, encourage the young men to live wisely. And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind. Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching. Teach the truth so that your teaching can’t be criticized. Then those who oppose us will be ashamed and have nothing bad to say about us.

Father, thank you for opening my eyes to this broader vision for what discipleship can be. Thank you that you cannot be boxed into a certain step plan, but that your ways are much more organic than that. Lord, thank you for the faithful disciplers who love you that you have placed in my life. Show me opportunities to build into others, to sweep them into my life. Continue to bring Jeremy and me people that we can open up our home to and just share life with. We love you Lord and give our home and lives to you.


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