Making Disciples…Not Hunting Them Down

My friend Heidi Scanlon recently shared some wisdom regarding how she approaches discipleship. Specifically, the kind of discipleship that happens when someone approaches her and asks her for discipleship and mentoring. I asked her permission to share.

Sometimes, God calls us to specific people. He wants us to go after them, pursue them, and invest in them even when they haven’t sought us out. The Holy Spirit drops those names in our hearts from time to time.  I suspect Paul felt a specific call to Timothy. He obviously didn’t feel the same way about John Mark. Barnabas, on the other hand, evidently did feel called to John Mark. For most people, however, discipleship should hinge on their commitment matching ours. Otherwise, we waste our time.

In general, when we disciple others, they need to be faithful, available, and teachable. Not simply curious. We are called to make disciples; not hunt them down. Here are the ground rules that Heidi has put in place for such discipleship.

Heidi’s Discipleship Guidelines

  1. I will not chase you down. You have to organize the meeting and reach out to me to put it in the calendar. I am flexible and I don’t mind switching the days up even weekly. But I will not be reaching out to you. This is for you to invest in your own discipleship.
  2. If we miss more than 2 meetings in a row – I love you but let’s just be friends. Unless you can show there were real emergency type reasons. I’m not a prima donna. It’s just good for you to grow in commitments.
  3. Let’s pick a book. You choose. Can be a book of the bible. A book we read. Anything. I will ask you one main question every meeting: what did the Holy Spirit reveal to you and what did you do about it? Or I may say – how can we pray for that to become a reality in your life.
  4. You must agree from the beginning that you are going to find someone you can pour into after we finish our season together. It’s important that we can point to groups where we are discipling to the 3rd and 4th generation. I will ask you to pray about who you are being called to invest in in some way. Paul tells us to not be stingy with the word of God and what we learn. It’s important to pass it on.

And…some bonus wisdom from Heidi on being present for moms with young children…

The Lord gently leads those with young says the scripture. If they have little kids we need to come along side and help them. Empty their dishwashers. Sit on the floor and play with them and their kids. Talk about Jesus and marriage and family. Teach them to hear the voice of God if they don’t know how. Help them manage their exhaustion and emotions. Teach them tips and tricks like putting their bible on the counter when they are cooking dinner and mediating on a verse. Or praying for each family member when they fold their clothes. Or listening for the Lord to speak as they wash dishes. Or doing intercession when they are nursing a baby.

March 11th, 2015 [ Tags: ] 1 Comment

Guest Post: Tim Stevens- Ask Questions

I’m really excited to host Tim Stevens on my blog today! His insight on asking questions is one of the most overlooked skills of a leader. Enjoy!

Asking questions may be one of the least talked about secret weapons of a great leader. In fact, I believe it may be one of the most undeveloped skills in leadership. Many businesses and nearly all churches are filled with leaders who are professional communicators. That is, they are paid to talk. They spend a good portion of their time figuring out what they are going to say and how they are going to say it, and then delivering the message.

They don’t get hired to ask people questions. They get hired to tell people what they think or believe about a certain topic or product. Pastors are the worst offenders—they are so used to everyone wanting to hear what they have to say that they have a difficult time listening to (or caring about) what others have to say.

Yet the Bible we carry around and teach from is very clear:

“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak.” (James 1:19)

“Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful
and foolish.” (Prov. 18:13 NLT)

As author and management consultant Peter Drucker put it, “The leader of the past was a person who knew how to tell. The leader of the future will be a person who knows how to ask.”

Back in the day, it was possible for one person to hold most of the knowledge and be able to guide an organization to success through working the system. Not anymore. Today’s world is moving too fast, information is changing too rapidly, and no one person (or group of people) has an edge on what is needed for success.

Additionally, a person who doesn’t ask questions comes off as proud and untouchable. There is an air of superiority that emanates from the know-it-all. He or she may not know it, but others don’t enjoy being around someone who has all the answers.

A person who asks questions

  • assumes there is something he or she can learn;
  • exudes humility;
  • infuses confidence in people around him or her;
  • helps introverts or nonverbal leaders communicate;
  • is constantly learning.

A person who doesn’t ask questions

  • assumes he or she already knows all the facts;
  • exudes a cocky attitude;
  • risks looking like a fool;
  • shuts down people who don’t have as forceful of a personality;
  • impresses him or herself more than others;
  • forfeits prime learning opportunities.

When we were trying to discover the five-year vision for Granger, we took the unprecedented step of going to every single person in the church and asking him or her to help us. We didn’t want to come off the mountaintop like Moses with a word from God and say, “Here is the five-year vision. Read it and weep!” Rather, we wanted to give every single person in the church an opportunity to participate. So we asked questions like these:

  • If this church could be everything you wanted in five years for your family, what would that look like?
  • If this church was exactly the type of church to help you reach your friends who don’t currently attend, what would it look like?
  • If this church was transforming our entire community and making our city a better place to live, what would we be doing differently?

And it was an amazing discovery process. There were key parts of the five-year vision that we constructed by asking questions. And the questions weren’t a disguised way to find people who would agree with what we were already planning. Rather, the vision came from the answers we got from asking the right questions.

Authenticity is key. You can ask questions in order to manipulate people to do what you want and make them think it was their idea. But that’s not authentic, question-based leadership. That might get you what you want. But you risk losing credibility in the process. Gary Cohen said it this way:

“The right questions rely on the leader’s ability to communicate authentic interest in learning the answer. They come from a place of not knowing. The right questions are open-ended, carry the possibility of true discovery, and demonstrate a willingness to share and bestow credit.

Tim Stevens is a team leader with the Vanderbloemen Search Group, an executive search firm that helps churches and ministries find great leaders.
Previously he was the executive pastor at Granger Community Church in Granger, Indiana. During his twenty years there, he helped grow the church to more than 5,000 gathering weekly in three locations and saw a worldwide impact.

Learn more about his new book, Fairness Is Overrated: And 51 Other Leadership Principles to Revolutionize Your Workplace.

January 30th, 2015 Leave a comment

Prayers in the Land of “If Not”

In Amazed and Confused, I talk about the importance of having “if not” faith. The kind of faith that navigates us through the moments when God’s actions collide with our expectations. The faith that sustains us when God doesn’t respond in the way we think that He could or should. The kind of faith that stands the test of life.

It’s reflected in a story in Daniel 3 in the humble confidence of three Jewish boys who find themselves caught between a crazy king and a fiery furnace in Babylon. When they refuse to bow down to the idol the king has erected, they were threatened with death. This was the response:

Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to defend our actions in this matter. We are ready for the test. If you throw us into the blazing furnace, then the God we serve is able to rescue us from a furnace of blazing fire and release us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if He does not, O king, you can be sure that we still will not serve your gods and we will not worship the golden statue you erected.

This is the kind of faith that knows God can, believes God will, but chooses to worship even if He does not.

Maybe you are living in the land of “if not” right now. Perhaps you are staring into a future that seems uncertain. What does prayer look like?

I am facing an “if not” moment in my life right now. Beyond the obvious prayers that God will come through, work miracles, and do what only He can do, I’m also praying for a few other things. Including:

  • That I would see the faithfulness of God, regardless of the outcome.
  • That God would glorify Himself in me and through me, regardless of the outcome.
  • That those who are a part of the journey would be curious about the Jesus who I follow and the faith that sustains me.

What do you pray in the land of “If Not?”

May 19th, 2014 [ Tags: , , ] 15 Comments