Verify Installation

2 Pictures of Discipleship


Every summer when we take our trip back to Iowa, my girls take swimming lessons. And every summer I’m amazed at how these ladies work with my daughters to teach them to swim. They don’t even realize it, but these lessons provide an incredible picture of what discipleship is all about. In a nutshell, here’s what they do:

1) They develop a relationship of trust 2) They show them how to do it 3) They do it with them 4) They let them do it and give constant encouragment along the way

*For more, read my previous post Swimming Lessons for Life


Brent Thomas shares a diagram he borrowed from Randy Pope:

Start in the bottom-right corner with “Directives.” When you start a new job, the first thing they typically do is dump a bunch of information at you; what’s expected of you, your duties/responsibilities, etc. Then, a trainer will oftentimes let you shadow him while you gradually begin to take on the responsibilities for yourself. Gradually, the trainer will withdraw and move into a support role. They are available for questions and assistance as needed, but you are beginning to take on more and more of the responsibilities yourself. Finally, the responsibilities are delegated fully to you and you are on your own in the workplace.

One of the most frustrating things you can do is give someone directives and then immediately delegate to them. And yet, for many of us, that is exactly how we approach discipleship. In sermons or Bible studies, we tell people what they should do/how they should live and then basically send them on their way saying “Now go do it!” This simply leads to burnout, anxiety and legalism.

But what’s missing in many church contexts is the actual process of helping others learn how to do what the Bible says. Jesus’ ministry was primarily to the Twelve who lived with him, ate with him, followed him, mimicked him, gradually learning to do what He did.