Been thinking about discipleship a bit recently.
I’m so grateful for leaders and spiritual (and natural!) parents who’ve taken the time and energy to personally walk with me and invest into my life. I’m doing what I’m doing today because of what they gave me….
Hmmm… maybe they’d prefer to not take credit for how my life has turned out… haha 🙂
Anyway… I’ve been thinking too about how I’ve ALSO been discipled by people I never had a personal relationship with. I saw something on their life that I wanted to be like, and I MYSELF took the time and energy to read their books, listen to their music or messages, go to their conferences. They may have never known my name or the effect that they’d had on me. But they’ve been incredibly influential and there’s things I do differently in my life simply because I learnt it from them.
A great example of this for me is Keith Green. Keith died in a plane crash in 1982 when I was only 6, and it would be another 9 years before I ever ‘discovered’ his ministry. Yet I throughout my teenage years I devoured everything and anything he’d written, played, said or done! He was totally my teacher and I was absolutely discipled by him… after he’d already been taken to glory!
Ps Phil Pringle made a fascinating point at the C3 Leaders conference I was at earlier this year. He said that often people ask him to mentor or disciple them, and what they’re really asking for is ‘special time’ with him.
He then went on to say that it’s been interesting for him how over the years, there’s been all these peope he spent ‘special time’ with, who never really listened or took on board anything he said. But then, he’s found people all over the world who have read his books, listened to his messages, went to his seminars, and who are living out in their lives the very essence of what he preaches.
So the question has to be asked really – who is the true disciple? The one who gets the ‘special time’ or the one who actually listens and puts into practice what is taught? Of course these things aren’t always mutually exclusive. There are those who get ‘special time’ who become true disciples for sure. But it’s really made me think.
Discipled From A Distance
I never met Keith, but I learned a lot of my piano style by studying and imitating his music and I got a foundation for ministry through his uncompromising, sold-out life for Jesus.
I’ve only met Ps Phil once in person, but his teachings on faith and vision, and his answer to a question I asked at a leaders event earlier this year on how he spends time with God have been absolutely put into practice for me. I’ve been a disciple in those areas through blogs, podcasts and from three chairs along from the left in Row 49 🙂
So what conclusion does it bring me to? It makes me think that perhaps discipleship isn’t just about the teacher taking the time to pursue the student. Perhaps it’s equally as much about the student taking the time to pursue the teacher!