I have the privilege of being able to walk along side of a lot of people to help them grow as followers of Christ. I was reminded of this today as met a young man for the first time over a coup of coffee. I spent well over an hour listening to his story and desires for his life and faith. He drives a tank. How cool is that? I look forward to seeing what God does in my new tank driving friend.
I have been able to see, first hand, God change a lot of people’s lives, which is amazing.
One of the lessons I have learned in over 20 years of investing in people is that I am not even close to being perfect at it. I have given bad advice. I’ve been selfish. I have been wrong. Anything that has gone “well” is all because of God and not me.
Here is the first a few ways that I have missed it while investing or discipling others.
I Have Treated People as “Mine” and not “God’s”
1 Peter 5:2 says, “Shepherd the flock of God…”
Those that we invest in (disciple) belong to God. It is easy over time to lose sight of this and slowly begin to view them as “ours” or “mine”. I have several people that I am investing in right now but in reality they are much more than “my guys”, they are heirs, children, beloved in the Kingdom. I am just given the honor to walk with them during this season of life.
When the perspective of “mine” begins to work into the way we view those we are investing, then we are taking steps towards manipulation. When we manipulate we end up stunting their growth in Christ.
Key: This frustrates those we investing because it limits their potential. Those we invest in or disciple should have the vision of their life shaped by Jesus and His potential for them. When I disciple as “mine” I limit their potential to “me”.
Here are some practical thoughts that have helped me overcome the “mine” perspective of people.
1. Disciple in the context of community. This makes investing/disciple making a group or “family” effort, allowing people to have multiple trusted influences.
2. Regularly pray for humility as a disciple. It is easy for my pride and opinion of self to get so high that I think I am all that the person needs. (Rom. 12:3, Phil 2:3-5)
3. Get Help. When the person I am investing in is walking through something that I do not know much about or can’t adequately relate to I try to point them towards someone who is more equipped for that situation.
The key is to always remember that to have the privilege of discipling or investing in others, is a gift of God that should not be taken lightly, but with a great amount of care and gratitude.