Growing up in the mountains of North Georgia afforded me plenty of opportunities for adventure, and many of those adventures revolved around a large lake near our house. As my friends and I grew older, we found more and more exciting ways to spend our free time. One particular way involved a rope swing over a drop-off into the lake that affectionately became known to us as The Cliffs. I am sure that mom and dad knew nothing about this spot on the lake, but the boys certainly did! Somehow at The Cliffs, a long rope had been attached to an oak limb high in the tree on the edge of the lake. The first time I saw someone go off the swing, I was mesmerized and terrified…and knew I had to do it!
When I finally got the nerve, I remember grabbing the stick that served as a t-bar at the end of the rope, walking back up the cliff into the woods, and looking down at the lake. Everyone was excitedly saying things like, “Hold your feet up or you’ll drag when you get to the edge,” “Let go when you get as high as you can,” and those wise words from “that guy” (you know him, we all have “that guy” with the mouth and no filter), “Hey, what’s the worst that could happen…break your neck?” Everyone laughed except the guy holding the rope.
Finally, I made the decision and took off. I went out over the edge and up, up, up I went with stomach dropping fear. It felt like an eternity had passed until I reached the highest point, and when it came time for me to let go, nothing happened! I couldn’t let go so down, down, down I went back toward the bank gaining speed the whole way. I raised my feet up just high enough to miss the return to the bank and barely avoided injury. Everyone was screaming for me to let go over the water!
I was terrified as I came to a stop, but the mixture of anger at myself for not doing it combined with a good amount of peer pressure and name calling propelled me to try again. I took the rope once more determined to do it. Again, over the bank I went, and this time at the top, I let go! All I can say is that I felt like I was flying as I entered the warm water of the lake. I emerged with a smile and was greeted by the cheers of my buddies. I was hooked. From then on, our summers were filled with time spent at The Cliffs enjoying the rope swing. No one ever got hurt, and the decision made to go for it led to so many fun memories. If I had not decided to just let go and go for it, I would have missed the enjoyment of floating, flipping, diving, and flying through the air.
Over 10 years ago, Heather and I made a decision to let go and step out into the unknown. We decided that God was calling us to make disciples, and fail or not, we were going to go for it. We became very intentional about discipling and pouring our lives into others. We have learned that making disciples can be hard, sometimes dirty (sin is that way), painful, time-consuming, and self-sacrificing, but worth every bit of it. While there is the harder side, there is also a beauty to it. It is the beauty of seeing someone come into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ, the amazing picture of seeing people freed from the power of sin, and the JOY… the joy that comes only in obedience to God. When you walk with someone and see them become a disciple that is willing to go and make disciples, joy fills your heart because you know that even with all your fallacies, weaknesses, and mistakes, God has used you to deepen and expand His Kingdom. I am amazed He chose to use us in this way, but He did. In all our weakness, we rely on Him in faith to empower and equip us to accomplish what He has commissioned us to do.
Over the next few weeks, I am going to focus on Things I Have Learned through discipling others. Particularly since starting GoDisciple, God has taught me some very specific lessons, and He has reiterated them over and over as I have continued to point people to Jesus and walk with them through this time in their lives. So let’s jump in and talk about it.
One question I get asked more than any other is So what do I do next? This question usually comes on the heels of 14 weeks of intense discipleship in which an individual has hopefully experienced a very deep time of communion with God, freedom from the power of sin, and a radical Biblical shift in what it looks like to follow Jesus. If this is what has occurred, then you can believe the Holy Spirit has placed on that person’s heart the need and desire to pour into the lives of others. Discipleship should always lead an individual in the direction of wanting to go and make disciples.
So this question which originates as a natural part of our Christian growth comes up frequently, and there is often a lot more hidden behind the question that may surprise you. What I have found is that fear is the main culprit behind many people never engaging in discipleship.
There is a fear of not feeling equipped enough to start.
There is the fear of not knowing whom to disciple.
There is the fear of not being spiritually mature enough.
There is the fear of not knowing enough of the Bible.
There is a fear of not knowing what to say.
There is fear…
You can probably create your own list of a number of fears that could keep you from engaging in discipleship. Some of these fears might even hold some validity. You may not be equipped or know the Word of God very well; but, if you know that discipleship is right and you know that God is calling you to make disciples, then those things that keep you from doing it become temporary.
God will equip you through the work of His Spirit.
God will lead you to the people you need to pour into.
God will help you grow and mature as you yield to Him.
God will give you an understanding of the Scriptures by the power of the Holy Spirit if you desire it and seek it.
No matter how equipped you feel, no matter how much you know, or no matter your level of maturity, you will come to a point of decision. At some point, you have to understand that to make disciples is to step out in faith and believe that God will help you. Discipleship will be an experience of growth for you and for those you disciple.
So to sum it up…It’s scary, but do it anyway. If you desire to pour your life into your children, students, friends, or co-workers, you will never learn what it looks like to make disciples and how to rely on God in the middle of it until you make a commitment to start doing it. Like the decision I made years ago to let go and go for it on the rope swing, you are going to have to make a decision to let go and go for it. When you do, you will not regret it and you will find yourself living out what God has called us to go do.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6
So the First Lesson: Do it! Make a decision in faith to Go Disciple!
Things to Think About:
- Are you open to discipling someone?
- If not, why? Take it to the Lord in prayer and ask Him to help you with it.
- Begin to pray that God would send someone your way to pour your life into.
Next time we will be talking about the Hidden Treasure you will find when you begin to disciple others….Don’t forget to sign-up on the right hand side of the page to get these post directly sent to you.