Friendships that Change Lives

A couple of weeks ago my family and I took a road trip to Chicago to see some friends that we have known for over 20 years.   We love Chicago and our friends there. They are life giving.

Our friends lead what could be called a house church.  They simply say they are making disciples of Jesus from their home.  Church from that perspective is a beautiful thing. While we were there, our friend Lewie asked if I would share with their group on my philosophy of disciple making. Sounds deep? Well, I compared that request to be like my 13 year old son who play’s basketball being asked to give Steph Curry shooting tips. I felt under qualified…

But I said “sure.” When the time came for me to “present” as Lewie put it, I found myself just telling a story that I think will always be worth repeating as long as I live.

But first, what do I mean when I say disciple making?  Simple definitions are inadequate to explain disciple making but I have developed one over the years from the life of Jesus that has given me a framework.

Disciple Making is teaching people to follow of Jesus through intentional relationships of love so that they can go and do the same.

There is a lot in that for later, but it I’ll leave it there for now. Here’s the story.

I was in my second senior year at Georgia College. My roommates had met a guy named Tim who was an intern with a Christian ministry on campus. They had told me that Tim wanted to meet me.  I didn’t think anything of it or do anything about it.   I think we ended up meeting in a pickup game of basketball. 

For some reason Tim made great deal of effort to get to know me.  He was genuinely interested in my life, not just from a spiritual perspective but from a whole life perspective.  

We became close friends.  

We played basketball together. I consistently beat him at ping-pong.  We played bad golf together, even getting in trouble for doing donuts in our golf carts while shirtless. He and his wife would have me over to his apartment to eat cheap frozen pizza (back then you could get 3 pizzas for a $1 at Winn Dixie). 

He was never pushy but always initiated spiritual conversations with me. We would talk about the Bible.  He would ask me about my life. He would encourage me. He would point out things in my life that didn’t make sense or line up with God’s word. He even cried with me.

He was loving me.

I will never forget sitting with him one day and reading this verse of Scripture,  

“And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” – 2 Timothy 2:2

He challenged me to go memorize it and then we would talk about it.  So I came back to the conversation in about week (I was a slow memorizer). We talked about it for a while and he looked me in the eye and simple said, “go live that out”.

That was an interesting moment for me for a couple of reasons.  One, was that I felt extremely underqualified to “go live that out.”  Two, even though I felt underqualified I realized that Tim saw something in me that I could not see. 

He believed in me. 

Tim was teaching me to follow Jesus through an intentional relationship of love, so that I could go and do the same.

There are a few aspects of that relationship that have shaped my philosophy of disciple making and they are seen in John 15:12-17.

  1. Sacrificial Love– My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

Tim sacrificed a lot to invest in me.

  • Trust and intimacy– “I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”

Tim invited me into all of his life.

  • Commitment to the future– “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last.”

Tim was committed to what God could do in me.

That friendship changed my life.  It gave me the belief that if a simple but intentional friendship can have that impact on me then it can have that on anyone. 

It gave me the belief that you can be a “Tim” for someone else. 

2 Comments Add yours

  1. David James says:

    Well said my friend! Thank the Lord for Tim and thank the Lord for Doug!


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