My cycling apprenticeship involves 3 disciplers.
First there’s my too-cool- for-preschool girlie. She’s learning too, and she is totally committed. She’s determined, refuses to be underestimated. So even though she wipes out in the dust and cries twice, it doesn’t steal her enjoyment or her goal. She rides with a broad smile and a giggly laugh, free of inhibition, free of pride, free of the need to look good in the eyes of anyone watching. As far as she is concerned, no one is watching, no one that matters. I want her freedom.
Then there’s my fabulous first grader. She’s decided to stick close by my side, ride where I ride. She’s full of warmth, praise, and encouragement and eager to show her unconditional support. When I get off the bike, she pats me on the back and whispers in my ear “Good job, Mom.”
Finally there is my husband Chris, an avid mountain biker. He’s been riding forever. He taught the girls how to ride their bikes, now he’s teaching me. He knows how badly I want to learn and knows what I need to do to get there. He also knows what lies beneath the surface holding me back; the fears, the pride, the pain. He doesn’t waver. He won’t make a truce with my past. He’ll lead me through the pain barrier to the future.
Glancing over my shoulder at my family gave me a fresh glance at what we need to be if we are going to be effective disciplers. You see, anyone can talk a good game, especially about discipleship. Its another thing for us to life the life. We can’t lead others to where we haven’t been. A few thoughts came to mind as I wobbled around the park:
We’ll need to keep on the bike, keep our skin in the game. Yes we may have hit the dust a few times, and wept our own tears, after all, that’s life isn’t it? But who are we today? Are we trapped in life’s disappointments or are we on the bike with a smile on our face riding with freedom? The ones are still on the bike, with stories on yesterday as well as yesteryear – those lives are worth watching, lives worth imitating.
If we’re serious about discipleship we need to be willing to be present. Apprenticeship, discipleship cannot be contained in a matter of hour long didactic teaching sessions. Discipleship is life on life with people who are willing to be tangible, accessible examples of humbly walking through everyday life with God. It’s where we learn the how of what this Christian life means for our money, our relationships, our values, our gifts and passions, our calling . So people need to see our lives, experience our lives. We also need to stay close enough for people to hear our encouragement and affirmation. It can be hard to live and learn alone, because life and faith were never designed to be lived that way. So if we’re serious about discipleship – then we need to think through ways that people can see and hear our love, and see and experience our love.
Finally disciplers need to be ones who are solid and secure enough to tell it like it is. It can be tough to say the difficult things that people need to hear. And on one level, I think it should be. Surely the words we say we should be willing to bring under the microscopic lens of our own lives. Maybe bringing a challenge can help us grow in humility and compassion for a brother or a sister in need of God’s loving hand. Still there are times that the challenging conversation though uncomfortable, is absolutely essential to growth and healing. Tempting though it may be – it’s not worth making a truce with personal comfort, or with the past when we can have the difficult conversation that brings someone to the foot of the cross where true freedom awaits.
I’m definitely a learner as a disciple, but I’m learning so much as a discipler too.
What lessons have you learned about discipleship recently?
And yes, in the end, I rode my bike. I rode along the bike path looking at the Pacific Ocean on a sunny SoCal day. It felt just as good as I had imagined. It felt free.