By Shannon Youell
“We must be disciples who make disciples.”
This statement caused me to ask myself some hard questions as I pondered Am I a disciple? In reflecting on this question I asked myself these six questions to help me discover areas on which I need to allow Jesus to work in me. We looked at the first three last week. These are in no way exhaustive, but merely the first six upon which to begin your own reflecting. The first three were around things that challenged my character and the next three my competencies as a ambassador of Christ.
4: Am I a Person who Loves Others?
Jesus tells us this in John 15:12-13 (MSG):
“I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends.
Jesus also commands us to love our enemies. And love those who we consider unclean, sinners, outcasts. Jesus loves. He loves without boundaries or judgment. He loves because He is love. If I love Jesus, and am His disciple, He commands that I love like Him. Yet, I am often appalled at how often I have to remind myself of that. This, too, is the journey of a disciple. We are constantly being called back to that place of repentance at our shortage of love, care and our selective indifference for others. How can we truly love our enemies if we are also praying for their demise! This is a hard teaching indeed!
5: Am I a Servant?
I mentioned that my first disciplers did not lord it over those they were discipling–that they understood we were on a journey together and had much to teach one another. Often, in pastoral ministry, folk tell me they are a discipler and that I should assign them a disciple. Or a position. At our church, our response to those that move into places of teaching, leadership, pastoring, is that in these roles we actually lose “status.” We become servants to those whom we are in community with.
In my own life and ministry, I need to continually weigh my attitudes in the places where I serve by asking myself if I am taking a posture of status or a posture of servanthood. Am I doing this to satisfy a need in my own self, or to truly love and journey with others as they discover their identity in Christ and in following Him?
As soon as I find myself feeling superior, wiser, holier, I have moved from a position of serving to a position of status. Jesus was pretty blunt with the religious leaders of his day about this!
This is a hard one as sometimes it is difficult to self-determine when I’m “lording” and when I’m serving. It drives me back to question #3: Am I Accountable and demands that I, too am in a place of concurrently being a disciple and making disciples.
6: Am I a Sent-One who Goes?
Being a disciple also means I am willing to submit to His sending of me beyond my safe parameters and comfort zone, and being courageous to share stories of where God’s story intersects my story.
My secret of learning to be bolder? I, like most of us, am terrified, even when I can sense the Spirit strongly prompting me, to introduce Jesus into a conversation even when the door is so wide open it has fallen off its hinges! So to tackle that fear I took the challenge to just ask people if I may pray with them when they have shared something sad, or difficult, or something they struggle with. You might be amazed how quickly one can find out if the grocery cashier is having a good day or a bad day and why! It stuns me still.
And so I’ve tried to muster up courage and ask if I can quickly pray with them. I like the terminology of praying with rather than for as it invites them into the prayer. Most of the time they say yes! It is a very terrifying thing to do, and yet there is nothing more joyous than that 30-second prayer while picking up the grocery bags.
Being a disciple is always being attentive to that awareness that God is already at work all around me and I just need to join him.
Being a disciple means following close. Being a sort-of-follower, or most-of-the-time follower, will leave us confused as to where it is we are going because we will have lost sight of Him and walked our own path. Jesus is our foremost priority. Everything else fits into that.
As I said earlier, this is by no means an exhaustive or even fully articulated list. What questions do you find yourself asking in regards to the overarching question of “Am I A Disciple?” Let us know as we learn and disciple one another! God created humanity as a community, placed us in community and Jesus taught us that we live, work, play, pray and disciple in community.