Two people can workout at a gym, spending the same amount of time. One gets a great workout, the other’s body is barely impacted. Why?
It’s not just a question of putting in the time, but what you do with that time makes a world of difference. This is why people pay $100 an hour for a personal trainer – someone who will guide them, challenge them, help them make the most of the time.
Change isn’t easy. Whether you’re talking about physical change – going from a couch potato to being in shape, or spiritual change, where the goal is becoming more like Christ – it doesn’t “just happen.” Of course God is the One who changes us. But He doesn’t just zap us and make us mature Christians. There is a partnership, a key role we play in the process too. And can that process ever be uncomfortable, even painful. If you just “do what comes naturally” you’ll usually remain the same.
This is why two people who have been Christians for ten years may be in very different places spiritually. In Hebrews 5:12 the author states, “Though by this time you ought to be teachers you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s Word all over again. You need milk, not solid food.”
There are basic things we need to learn before we can move on. If you don’t get them or even more importantly learn how to live them, there is a need to be taught all over again! What a difference it can make when you have someone intentionally helping you! Especially in the spiritual arena! As it says in 1 Timothy 4:8, “Physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things holding promise for both this present life and the life to come.”
Richard Hooker once said, “Change is not made without inconvenience, even from worse to better.” This is biblical! In fact, Hebrews 12:11 puts it even stronger, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.”
Did you catch that? No discipline! Not one seems pleasant at the time, but painful! Who likes pain? Not me! This is why it can sure help to have someone come alongside to help train you.
But just as personal trainers vary in their helpfulness, so disciplers can too. A lot depends on what is done during the time spent one on one. Consider this list of key things the best personal trainers do:
1. They assess where the client is and where she needs to grow, helping the client identify goals.
2. They draw on their experience to provide guidance for how the client can grow to attain her goals.
3. They help their clients learn what to do and how to use the equipment.
4. They come alongside and provide ongoing motivation, holding the client accountable, challenging her to do more than she most likely would on her own.
5. They watch out for her and correct her if she is doing something wrong so she isn’t as likely to get hurt.
6. They periodically assess her progress and make adjustments in the plan as necessary.
7. And the best, train clients so they can continue on and won’t always be dependent on them.
Every one of these correlates with life changing discipleship!
As they use to say at the gym, “No pain, No gain.” Only that isn’t just true for the one getting the workout, but for the personal trainer and discipler too! I want people to like me, to be happy with me. And that doesn’t always happen when I have to speak into a hard area or hold them accountable or especially if I need to correct them. Some of my deepest pain has been experienced while discipling women.
But “later on” when this hard training produces a harvest of righteousness and peace, you better believe there’s thanks! From them! And me, too, for how the Lord gave me the grace to press on and persevere even in the midst of the pain!
Next time you’re at the gym – watch the personal trainers. You might be surprised at what you can learn about discipling from them!!!