Discipleship is when a group of like minded people get together and talk about new things while nodding their heads as if they already knew and agreed with all that has been said.
Wait… what’s that sound? That’s just Matt dry-heaving uncontrollably in the corner of the room. If that is truly discipleship then I (no longer referring to myself in the 3rd person) do not want to have any part of it. To be honest, that just sounds flat out boring and pointless.
As we all know, our bodies do not grow stronger and more fit while we workout but rather through the recovery process. Our workouts actually damage tissue so that growth can occur.
We have lost our grip on a basic understanding of discipleship. Many have forgotten, or possibly have never known, what discipleship feels like or looks like in practice.
Here are a few things that we must associate with discipleship:
- Discomfort. It is uncomfortable to be wrong. It is also uncomfortable when you believe someone else is wrong. Discomfort serves as the starting blocks for robust and authentic conversation.
- Awkwardness. We can’t be discipled without being asked awkward questions. Also, we can’t disciple anyone else without asking them awkward questions. Name it, claim it, embrace it, and get over it – for the glory of God.
- Changing Belief. We are not always right (don’t tell my wife I said that). Honestly, is it really worth your time to meet regularly with another person while not allowing your beliefs to be changed in the process? This includes beliefs about God, about the way we live, about marriage, about parenting, about finances and career…
- Reasoned Belief. We are not always heading down the wrong path in need of a dramatic change of direction. Sometimes we believe rightly yet we are not able to give an explanation for that belief. We need all the challenges that come through discipleship to bring us to a place where we have reasoned belief which can be communicated effectively to others.
- Safety. Amidst the discomfort and awkwardness there must be safety. Trust creates an atmosphere of safety which breeds honesty and confidentiality. Anything less than authenticity and full engagement destroys the trust which provides the safety in discipleship.
- Growth. When we are truly walking in discipleship relationships, there will be discernible growth. We will be moving ahead in our journey of knowing Jesus intimately and following Him.
- Joy. Even with all of the discomfort and awkwardness, there is GREAT joy in joining with others in this radical journey we call Christianity.
I’ve asked myself, how many of us ‘church folk’ would know discipleship if it hit us like ice-cold water in the face?
When we are looking to check the box for feel-good ‘churchyness’ we would much prefer my opening definition. Then too often, when real discipleship begins to happen we do not know how to process it.
Questions: Have you experienced the great joy of spiritual growth through nitty-gritty, down-n-dirty discipleship? How did you work through the discomfort and awkwardness that led to your forward motion?