Developing Vision in Those You Disciple Pt. 2

I’ve always kind of admired people who can tie knots of all kinds: square knots, slip knots, hitch knots, etc. To these knot kings, knots are like greeting cards—one for every occasion. I know how to tie very few. Don’t get me wrong, I can criss and cross with the best of them, but creating a haphazard knot is quite different from being able to repeat it. That’s the thing about knots, they aren’t learned by accident.

One knot I did learn to tie was the one for my shoes (thanks Mom & Dad!) It wasn’t easy. I remember each of the specific steps. One by one. In sequence. I even had a rhyme to help me learn. It went like this, “Over, under, then around the tree. Pull through and see the Bunny.”

All the effort was worth it when I finally got it right! What a feeling! Amazing! I was growing and each success brought me a bit closer to becoming a real live grown up!

In Part ONE of developing vision, we looked at the importance of developing personal vision in those we disciple and how it’s like tying a knot in a balloon. But much like tying a shoe, if we aren’t taught how then we probably won’t do it and we certainly won’t be able to repeat it. So, today I want to share with you a short acronym to help you learn how to develop vision in others.

The acronym is OVER.

Before a discipler can help someone develop vision, she needs to have it first. Just as grabbing the neck of a balloon comes before tying it, having the vision precedes passing it on. This vision is the unfolding of His plan. It’s the story God’s unfolding from Genesis through Revelation. He is building a people for Himself and for His glory. He has invited us to play an important part in this plan.

A disciple maker must clearly see her purpose in disciple making, and in life, as intentionally fulfilling the role God’s given her in His Grand Plan.

Now that we’ve grabbed the balloon, let’s understand OVER.

Observe – After owning her part in God’s plan, the disciple maker must help the disciple do the same. This starts by observing Scripture together. There are countless passages about God’s plan that can be observed. The ones I use most are, Acts 17:26, Matthew 28:18-20, Revelation 20:12-15, Jeremiah 10:23. More than any though, I connect the promise first given to Abraham in Genesis 12, trace it through Scripture to Galatians 3:29, and connect it to today. Observing God’s plan in the past, present and future – when coupled with the part God is asking her to play in that plan—is incredibly powerful in shaping personal vision.

In addition to observing Scripture, the disciple maker needs to observe God’s work in the disciple. As the relationship grows, she will quickly notice both the natural abilities and spiritual gifts God’s given. As my spiritual great-grandfather, Leroy Eims put it, “A leader is one who sees more than others see, who sees farther than others see, and who sees before others see.” Prayerful observation allows the disciple maker to glimpse how God might desire to use the disciple. I’m not talking here about iron-clad revelation, but rather a sense of how design could be uniquely used in making disciples. Such vision is often murky, but insightful. When paired with the V in OVER, it can becomes very powerful.

Verbalize – As you develop clarity on how God may desire to use His disciple, it’s important to verbalize your observations. At the right time, share what you sense with him. It could sound something like, “Al, I am challenged by your bold faith. I’m convinced God is going to use you to raise up men who boldly step out in faith like you do,” or “Chad, I’ve seen the passion you have for the poor and broken, I’m excited to see how he’ll use you in the midst of our comfortable suburban church. Your heart for these things is no accident,” or “Scott, I’ve noticed how deeply you study the Word, it’s often people with such hunger who develop into exceptional teachers.” You get the idea. When verbalizing these things, tone, excitement and setting matter big time. Speaking vision into the life of your disciple is an important step in helping them overcome one of the main obstacles of reproduction.

Another aspect of verbalizing is to ask the disciple what he thinks God may be leading him to. As he shares, ask character questions such as, “What character would a man have to have to accomplish such things?” or “In what unique ways would God need to prepare a man for that?” Then encourage him to regularly ask God to prepare him and his character. Such prayer habits develop a deep sense of God’s active hand in preparing him for future impact.

Experience – Noticing and talking are important, but they must eventually lead to action. As the disciple grows in vision and confidence it’s time for her to move outward. In a corporate setting there may be an opportunity for her to initiate a new initiative or to lead a study. In her personal life, the step may be to invite a co-worker/neighbor to do something, or to share an insight from Scripture, or to disciple someone for the first time. This step is where the other two have been leading. And it’s at this step that the effectiveness of the other two can be seen. Though fear may be present, a disciple who is convinced of her call will move forward with God at her side.

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Repeat – Since vision develops incrementally repetition is the key. Discouragement and loss of perspective are a part of life and faith. One role of the disciple maker is to continually spread vision over the disciple. Observe his life and how God is growing him. Share with him what you see now and what you foresee in the future. Help him experience the reality of God’s hand on his life by drawing attention to the impact he’s having on others.

As a disciple maker, doing OVER again and again, locks it in. Though I once needed a rhyme to help me learn how to tie my shoe, I can do it now without thinking about it. In the same way, when we intentionally use OVER with those we disciple, soon we will find ourselves making the tie of disciple making by spreading vision all over our discipling practices without even thinking about it!