It was in reading a new book I picked up called “Influencer” that my understanding of discipleship was actually reborn. I have referred to discipleship often, and tugged on what it is, and what it looks like for the past 35 years In reading this book, I stumbled onto what I think is the heart and soul of discipleship as defined by the life of Jesus. First, I should review what I have thought it to be in the past – making clear that, at its core, I DON’T believe it is any of these things:
- it is not about meeting
- it is not friendship, as we know it
- it is not a class where we get information
- it is not mentoring someone according to a specific agenda
What I do see, after being challenged to go back and look at the Testimony we have of Jesus, the great disciple-maker, is that everything He did had one purpose: The success of His disciples – and not narrowly defined, but based upon what THEY needed to be successful. It was the same heart that told Peter to “throw your net on the other side..”, as also warned him about being “sifted” by Satan, and encouraged him to “strengthen the brothers”, not if you are restored, but when. In the end, His going to the cross was not His agenda, but necessary for OUR success with God. He asked that it not have to be, but accepted it as the ONLY solution.
We live in a culture that promotes investing in and shaping others lives only if it meets our goals, or what we have in mind for people. It is ultimately centered around our limited understanding of what people need. But not until we are willing to take responsibility for the success of others, as defined by them, are we truly discipling as Jesus did. I beleive that this is an essential part of the irresistable love of Christ that has the power to change our world. Who could say “No” to someone truly committed to his or her personal succes? May we abandon our control-based, self-centered notions of discipleship, and embrace the way of Jesus in committing to the success of just a few other people in our lives.