Lies. They’re like weeds that creep up in the garden of our lives. They take root in our hearts and minds. And they’re dangerous, especially when they entangle themselves around what God has called us to and our ability to live out that call.
Over the past year, we’ve pulled out a couple dangerous lies, such as, “I can’t make a disciple, that's God's job,” and “My call isn't to make disciples its to...lead worship, care for kids, counsel the hurting, etc.” Today, we’re pulling out this one, “I can't disciple someone because I’ve never been discipled?”
There are many great reasons to believe this lie. It makes sense, right?! How can you disciple someone if you've never been discipled? After all, serious damage results from doing what you've never been trained to do. Imagine performing surgery without training?! Or sword swallowing?! Isn’t it a better idea to stick to what we know and have been trained in?
The fear of damaging others isn't the fear wrapped around this lie. Trying to do something you’ve never been trained to do is also personally risky. The likelihood of being embarrassed, rejected, or just spectacularly failing seems way to high! Learning something in public leaves us exposed to all of those. Need an example? Check out how Google’s AI bot taught itself how to walk. I dare you to walk around in public like that today!
What if you could disciple others without having been discipled first? What if disciple making is less like surgery and more like leaping? The truth is you can make disciples whether you’ve been discipled or not. Let me convince you with just two reasons…
First, God has called all disciples to make disciples. Jesus identified Himself as “the Good Shepherd”, not another human who could disciple you. In other words, Jesus will shepherd the attentive disciple into all truth and growth. He has promised to be with us and He's given us the Word and the Spirit to help us grow.
With such riches available to us being discipled by another person is a luxury not a need. If you're hungry enough to grow, He's already given us everything we need. There have been many periods in my life where I’ve called out to Christ to help me grow into a man who could impact others for the Kingdom. Those times have shown me that He's sufficient.
Secondly, unlike surgery and sword swallowing, disciple making is the natural progression of growth. Just as a fruit tree grows into fruit bearing, the natural outcome of a disciple’s maturity is reproduction. In other words, from the beginning, our growth is preparing us to disciple others. It’s the way God has designed life in our world. We grow from immaturity to maturity to reproduction.
Our fears are legitimate, but they don’t have to stop us. I still remember the first meeting with the first person I discipled. I was so scared! As scared as I was though, I quickly realized that to Brad it was just lunch with someone he knew cared about him. He didn’t know have expectations. Once I realized that, I was able to confidently more forward.
Our fears aren't just a hindrance, sometimes they can be helpful. Fear often motivates us to become excellent. When someone is afraid of failing, he will often work harder to reach success. A person without the “right way” may read and think intensely about the topic so that she can do it well.
Another advantage of never being discipled is an inexperienced person doesn’t have a model to replicate. While those who have been discipled usually just do what was done with them, an inexperienced discipler has to develop their own way. Reflection plus new opportunities drive growth in disciple making. It’s often these new, fresh-eyed approaches that lead to break throughs and more effective discipling practices.