I’ll be honest, I’m not an expert in much, if anything. I’m definitely new(er) to leadership within the context of ministry but there are things I have been taking in, observing, experiencing, and can speak to from my limited experience. Most of these things have come via drinking from a fire hose. There is so much going on that it usually takes me a while to unpack and recognize what was happening and, more importantly, what God was teaching me through these experiences.
One of these areas is discipleship. That word gets used a lot and misapplied to many things, but most within the context of ministry have at least an idea of what that word means. Some of my experience in the area has been good, a lot of it mediocre, and some of it bad. Some of it was intentional, a lot of it just happened (maybe even by accident).
What I have come away from these experiences understanding is that discipleship requires much from those who want to be “discipled” as well as those who want to “disciple” others. (By the way, you’ll want to do both.) Two principles, or things, that are essential and key in discipleship are transparency and time. These are both things that require intentional sacrifice and deliberate attention for most of us, as they will not come naturally.
Time. This is one thing that no one feels like they have enough of and it continually passes. the truth is you can either sit back and let time “get away” or you can take advantage of the time you have. I’m willing to bet you’re busy and you cringe at the thought of sacrificing more of it. However, it is necessary.
People growing spiritually and learning what it is to be a disciple of Jesus is a long process. In fact, it takes a lifetime. Most churches have attempted to equip as much as possible by teaching via the few willing to participate in a class setting or bible study. Although these are good in and of themselves, they only address one type of learning. The passing on of information. So our people have become pretty good at acquiring information. Some have even taken a step then to teach it to others.
The problem is that we leave often leave it at that because of what? Time. We have not paired up apprenticeship or immersion with our teaching. We tell people to be Christians, give them what they should be doing by passing on the information, facts, and processes, but often we don’t take the time to demonstrate it playing a key part in our life. And that is where transparency comes into play.
Transparency is giving people access to our lives. Living our life with nothing to hide and on display for the intention of demonstrating how God is working in our life. We like to live compartmentalized lives that, in the name of personal time, are hidden from people. No one can see what role prayer plays in our life because they don’t have access to our life. We give them access to an hour or two a week. An hour or two is easy to fake, but how do you respond when the “junk” of life is piling up on your shoulders? How do you spend time in the Word daily? How do you treat your wife? How do you raise your kids? What do you pray for? That’s what tell people how you’ve allowed God to work in and through you.
People in the Church often understand how to live intellectually. They can tell you about what Jesus accomplished on the cross theologically. But how that impacts them on a day by day basis, how Christ is working in them and through them to forgive and love, how their hearts are broken for things they never cared about before to the point that they are doing something about it, is much more complete for the learning process than any number of classes. Mike Breen says you can read a book all about open heart surgery but if I have a heart attack, if that’s the sum total of your learning, I’m going to a cardiac surgeon instead.
If you can come to know God rather than just know everything there is to know about Him, nothing in the world can stop you from moving to His heartbeat. You will recognize His voice and respond or you will read about others who did. Time and transparency are essential to being discipled well and discipling others well.
Time is a commodity to be invested. Transparency from both parties will build trust and allow others to see and experience what God is affecting in your life. It is the doorway into who you are and who you are becoming in Christ. This is much more than simply what you do. There is more to discipleship but these 2 T’s are essential.
Discipling is sharing life with someone else. The disiciples shared in Jesus’ life for 3 years; day in and day out. They saw what an obedient life looked and felt like.
Who are sharing your time and life with? Who are giving access to? How has your time been invested?