10 Discipleship Truths (Learned The Hard Way)
I’ve been doing youth ministry for something like 14 years. I like to think I have learned a little bit of the right way and the wrong way to do things. Mostly what I have learned is that there is a lot still to be learned, but maybe that’s another article for another day.
For today, here are 10 truths about leading others, specifically teenagers, in a discipleship journey.
1. I have at times overestimated the affect of my influence in the lives of teenagers whom I have discipled. Discipleship happens primarily because the Spirit is working in the lives of students. The older I get the more thankful I am that this is true.
2. A friend of mine used to say that discipleship was “crock pot stuff,” not “microwave stuff.” This great little analogy has stuck with me over the years. It reminds me to be patient and to take a long-term view of things.
3. Discipleship doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Teenagers’ lives are a complex system where parents, friends, other adults, and their immediate cultural contexts all contribute to impact their faith. We are only one of many voices.
4. Life-on-life discipleship is fun. If you’re not having fun with your students, you’re doing it wrong.
5. Life-on-life discipleship is not always fun. If you’re not occasionally walking through the valley, you’re doing it wrong.
6. Personal agendas are rarely a positive thing. When we come into a relationship with a preconceived image of what someone’s spiritual life should look like, frustration (and sometimes pain) is sure to follow.
7. Discipleship can’t happen without knowledge. We have to know God to follow Him. But I have at times in the past made discipleship more about knowledge than action. I think discipleship is knowledge informing action. It’s helping teenagers see how the knowing of God can literally transform their actions and attitudes.
8. I have benefited immensely from reading about discipleship practices and philosophy. But much if not most of it gets tossed out the window when you’re trying to study the Bible with five 7th grade boys.
9. Discipleship is every bit about tomorrow as it is about today. I want my teenage guys to be influencers and leaders today for the sake of Christ. But I also want them to be awesome husbands and fathers. I hope to play a small role on both ends of this spectrum.
10. I like to think about the discipleship journey in terms of proximity. In essence, we attempt to lead teenagers closer to Christ. Most of the time this is done beside them, journeying with them as they go. Often we’re close behind them, gently pushing them in the right direction. Occasionally we’re in front, pulling them where they need to go. And every once in a while, we’re far behind, watching them lead out. These are the best times.
What did I miss? What would you add?