Wednesday, July 22

Influencing others through our own example (No. 4-6)

Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. Phil.3:17

Setting an example is not the main means of influencing others,it is the only means. -Albert Einstein

Continuing with the series starting with #1-3 here, I offer three more areas which we are trying to model before those we disciple/mentor.

4. Our message is primarily Jesus Christ. Not churchiantity, nor the Christian Religion, nor the traditions and practices of Evangelicalism. We preach Jesus: his life, teachings, example, and commands. Learning to obey and practice the "Ten Commandments of Christ" is one of the first priorities of discipleship. Being Great Commission Jesus followers, one of our primary tasks is to "teach them to obey everything I [Jesus] have commanded you." (GNB) We followers of Jesus should not measure spiritual maturity based upon our knowledge of the Gospel, but upon our obedience of what we know of the Gospel. We should never confuse knowing the commands of Christ with obeying them in our personal lives.

Some might wonder why this is listed as #4 and not #1 on the list. The reason is simple. There is no particular order for any of these to be shared/modeled/taught. Taking after George Patterson's "menu based" way of training/discipling, we seek to offer what is needed when it is needed by the disciple. There is nothing wrong with systematic discipleship approaches (such as the excellent MasterLife and similar studies) but our experience has shown that there are circumstances when certain teachings will be eagerly absorbed because the disciple is going through that season of life or ministry. To simply teach through a series of great lessons might add head knowledge, but not necessarily implemented. Again, Jesus is our example. He went about daily life with his disciples. They encountered real life situations dealing with Kingdom matters, finances, divorce & marriage, fasting, prayer, weddings, healing the sick, etc. Living alongside alongside Jesus gave the accompanying teachings on the matters much more impact than classroom chapter by chapter study on what the Kingdom of God is about.

NOTE: While we do offer "systematic discipleship" materials, (especially for new believers) what we are talking about here is the ongoing process of "making disciples." Some might call systematic approaches as "formal discipleship", and what we are describing in these posts as an "informal discipleship" approach. These things are taught while "on the road."

5. 80/20 principle. Spend 80% of your time, energy, and attention with the 20% who "get it" and are seeking to be obedient followers of Christ. Give 20% of your remaining time to the 80% who aren't. Sometimes personal circumstances in the lives might prevent them from doing all that they wish they could, but the disciple of Christ must be careful to not get caught up in the energy draining cycle of pouring oneself out for those who never intend on doing a single thing being taught.

6. Always be reading a book. God's Word is our daily nourishment and primary source for inspiration, instruction, correction, etc. But God speaks as well through his servants who are further down the paths and have much to teach us. I personally try to balance my reading between fiction and non-fiction; comfort-zone and out-of-my-comfort zone reading; Christian and secular authors. I also try to read material in a broad range of categories: history, leadership, ecclesiology, fictional novels, science, current affairs, classic literature, self-help, biographies, etc. The best books are those that stretch us. We don't have to agree with everything said by an author in order to learn from them.

3 comments:

Dan said...

Guy,
Two points in particular are what I loved the most. First of all, that this is an ongoing discipleship. It isn't an eight week class or a membership 101 at church. This is real life and how we live it in Christ.
Also I enjoyed the idea of how we should spend 80% of our time and energy on the 20% who get it. A Navigators missionary to the US Navy taught me that as he mentored me. It has paid off a great deal in my work with sailors.
Great stuff. Thanks!

GuyMuse said...

Dan,

We use the terms "formal" and "informal" discipleship. One is structured systematic teaching of the basics of walking with Christ, and the other is an informal walking alongside the one being discipled as life is engaged. We have found both to be helpful. Most of my own discipleship is done in the latter category. On your second point, there are so many applications to the 80/20 principle. I even found a couple of books on the subject the other day!

Aussie John said...

Guy,

I really appreciate this series, which is very much in line with my own convictions.