Disciple Making is teaching people to follow of Jesus through intentional relationships of love so that they can go and do the same.
I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of people get tripped up on the first statement in that definition, “teaching people”.
I imagine that there are thoughts such as:
- I’m not a teacher.
- I don’t know enough of the Bible?
- I am still trying to figure things out myself.
- What could anyone learn from me?
I understand that. I have a masters degree from a theological seminary and have those kind of thoughts all the time. I still experience plenty of moments when I just don’t know the answer. This week, in three separate situations, I was asked spiritual questions that I couldn’t answer with much confidence. One of them from my 13-year old son.
If the challenge is for us is to teach others to follow Jesus, what do we do? Before I answer that question, I want to make a couple of broad statements that apply to every follower of Jesus.
- Every one of us needs to know more of the Bible than we know.
- Even if you only know a little, you know enough to help someone.
But, just knowing a lot doesn’t mean that you can effectively teach people to follow Jesus or that people would want to learn from you.
Jesus told us why we should learn from Him in the Gospel of Matthew. Since we are to imitate Him, then His approach should be a guide for us to follow. He makes this statement, “learn from me, because…”(Mt. 11:29). It comes in the context of Jesus inviting people who are weary to come find rest in Him. That’s important because part of the goal of any disciple making relationship should be for people to find Jesus and what He provides.
After the words, “learn from me, because”came out of Jesus’ mouth, it would have made perfect sense for Him to say, “I am God. I have infinite knowledge. I am the Savior of the world. I am always right.” But He didn’t say anything like that.
He said, “I am gentle and humble in heart.”
“Come to me…learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart.” I call this a Heart of Hospitality. It is a heart that welcomes others in so that they can grow as disciples of Jesus. In the book Making Room, Christine D. Pohl says, “Hospitality is a practice that integrates respect and care.” Respect and care are issues of the heart. When people encounter a heart that offers respect and care, humility and gentleness, then they will open themselves up to learn.
When you teach people from a gentle and humble heart multiple things will happen.
- They will let down their guard because they will not be afraid of judgement.
- They will be more open to showing their weaknesses because they know you are not trying to take advantage of them.
- They will give you more trust because they know you are more concerned with their interests than your own.
- They will be open to listening because they know you are not trying to put your knowledge on display.
- You will be released from the pressure of having to know all the answers.
- You will find yourself being a better listener which will help you know what they really need in their discipleship journey.
If you want to grow a Heart of Hospitalitybuild these practices into your life:
Pray. Ask God to make you more gentle and humble. He is the only One who can change your heart.
Listen. Next time you are spending time with someone, ask them to tell you their story and listen with the sole purpose of learning about them.
Ask. Ask a close friend to give you feedback on how you can grow in gentleness and humility. Allow them to be honest and receive their feedback without being defensive.