Discipleship and disciple-making is not about the transfer of information. It is also not merely “hanging out” and being friends. It is a marriage of Truth and relationship. It involves Truth that is unchanging taught in an organic, changing relationship. This relationship is not for the faint of heart! It is not for those who like control! It is not for those who do not want to be changed–either as disciple-maker or the one discipled!
I have seen much more molding of Christ-likeness in my life from pouring out into these women than I ever imagined. When you think of leading someone else, you think of dealing with their stuff–not yours. However, in relationship, your stuff comes to the surface.
My stuff has come to the surface as of late. Stuff is such a benign term—it’s more like sludgy dark sin. The thing about my sin is that I have been trained to make it look admirable to others. IT IS NOT. My sludge comes to the surface when those I disciple struggle in rebellion. They are not following “my plan.” How gross is that to even say? In my flesh, I want people to conform on the outside…to do the “right” thing. To lead well and follow well. The problem is that people can fake this and not be changed on the heart level. We have all done it–AND THAT IS NOT LIFE.
I am reminded time and time again, this relationship is not about me. It is not about reproducing me or making me look good. It is about reproducing Christ-like character born of the Spirit. It is about the heart–the depths of the heart where idols are many. It can get ugly but it can be beautiful when the gospel breathes life time and time again.
For real change to occur, the person discipled must experience grace. The Spirit must convict and open eyes. Grace is undeserved favor–that means that in struggle and rebellion, you mirror grace to them–the undeserved favor of the gospel. From much first-hand experience, I will tell you this is not easy. My first reaction is anger, then wrestling through prayer in why I reacted in anger, then (hopefully) remembering the gospel toward me so I can remember it toward them. Prayer for what is really going on within the person and the relationship. Then, prayer for that person’s heart and repentance.
God is teaching me much now about praying for the “why” in the person’s rebellion. I read an article the other day that really challenged my practice and heart in discipleship. What people “do” shows what they are worshipping. It shows what they want other than God. Instead of going in and tackling the outward behavior, we need to begin to mine for the inward want that is causing the outward behavior. Real change comes when that is tackled and the desire and love for Jesus grows. After all, isn’t the greatest commandment “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength?” The thing that they did to rebel is showing that they do not love Him with everything.
Love for someone or something is fed by desire. We learn in His word what is true and good to desire. Then, we ask the Spirit to renew us and make us and mold us to love God fully–for that is where true desire is filled. In Jesus, true joy is experienced. I want those I disciple to “get” this. This is not a one lesson time. This usually involves struggle and falling and pain. This involves lots of listening, asking questions and modeling this pursuit in your heart as the disciple-maker.
So, this disciple-making journey is not for those who are looking for ease and accolades. You are going to see your sludge and get messed up in another’s sludge. However, you get to get and give glorious grace and really rejoice in the Lord when change occurs. There is no “safe” bet for one to disciple. The most “together” young woman or man is still a sinner with idols abounding. YOU have idols abounding. Whether they are a rebellious prodigal son or a dutiful older brother, they need the gospel…and a lifetime of refinement by the Spirit in the body of Christ (the Church). There is great sorrow and great joy in this journey of helping others grow in Christ. There are some that I have walked beside that at times I am so sure of their walk with Christ and at times I wonder if they have ever met Him. This is where I have to release them to Him–they are not “mine.” I remember the scripture that says “those who endure to the end will be saved.” My allegiance is to Him and Him alone, and my worth comes from Him and not the direction of the lives of those I have poured into. However, it is great joy to see those really get the gospel and pour it generously and painfully into the lives of others.