So what do you do if no one is clamoring at your door for you to disciple them?!
Trust me there is a need all over the place for this! And someone needs to start the ball rolling somewhere! Someone needs to initiate. More often than not, that begins with the ball in our court!
I’ll be the first to admit, it can be scary initiating with people. You never know if they’re going to be open to doing something with you or if they are going to look at you like you’re crazy.
Especially if they aren’t in an environment where people around them, people they know, are being discipled. The very idea may seem foreign – or never even enter their heads. Especially if they are the same age as you or older!
Here are a few things I’ve found helpful when initiating:
1. Keep it lowkey!
I love to start by inviting someone over for tea (or to go for coffee or frozen yogurt! ;0) and asking to hear her story. As she shares I’m listening to hear evidence of where the Lord is at work in her life and how He might want me to join in and asking Him for wisdom to know how to do this! God’s amazingly creative! ;0)
Don’t start with seeking a commitment, start with relationship!
2. Ask her to have a shared quiet time with you (see the Helps section for more info on this!).
Whether you end up getting together again or not, just passing on this one treasure is huge! And can it ever help you go deeper in your friendship!
But I will say this – it’s still like taking a jump into an ice cold pool to initiate this. She could say no. She could think I’m strange. She may misunderstand. There is a risk whenever you initiate! But if you sense the Lord leading you to – and when I say that, in all honesty it’s not like I see a neon sign saying “Thus saith the Lord: Take the plunge!” I often don’t know for sure whether I should or not – but if I even think the Lord might want me to, I take a deep breath, pray for courage and dive in.
3. Don’t take it personally if someone doesn’t want to do this ~ or doesn’t want to do it with you!
Ephesians 2:10 states, “We are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God has prepared in advance for us to do that we might walk in them.” This definitely includes discipleship!!! Isn’t it wild to think the Lord has prepared in advance people for you to invest in? It’s not – just go find someone! But again, follow Him.
Sometimes He may lead through revealing to you directly who He wants you investing in. Sometimes He may lead through her response! Be gracious and thankful if someone says no! Would you really want to do something the Lord doesn’t want you doing?
4. Don’t expect initiating to be easy!!!
One day I was on campus – and you have to know I have a severe hearing loss, so initiating with new people is really scary for me as I never know whether I’ll be able to understand or not, or “hear wrong” and say the wrong thing in response… So I’m crying out to the Lord, “I am so tired of always being the one to initiate!!!” And He responded, “Now you’re getting a taste of how I feel. No one seeks after me on their own. I am always having to initiate!” (Romans 3:11; 5:8)
Is this ever an opportunity to identify with Jesus and better understand what it cost Him to do what He did!
5. Remember you don’t have to call it discipleship for discipleship to be occurring.
In truth, outside of a formal setting, it can seem weird to push to define a relationship like this. Be content to do Hebrews 10:24, “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” It’s always fun on down the road to see the lights come on when someone realizes – “Hey! This is what you’ve been doing with me!” Though that doesn’t always happen. Be ok with that, knowing God sees, and that’s what matters.
6. Discipleship is about influence and influence isn’t a given, but a gift.
Trust me, it’s not like you attain a certain place and people automatically run to be discipled by you. There really is a huge element of the Lord at work here. Even after thirty years of discipling women and with serving in a formal discipling ministry, I’ve been amazed at how the Lord at times intervenes to close doors when I fully intended to start meeting with someone, and how He’s redirected me when He’s wanted me meeting with someone I never planned on!
And just like I mentioned yesterday – there are seasons in our lives. Sometimes He leads us into quieter seasons where He says – this is just for you. Take a break from passing things on. Treasure, ponder what I’m giving you in your heart.
So sometimes I initiate and there’s no interest or worse, a negative response. And yes, it’s a battle when that happens to not feel rejected. But a dear friend was just sharing with me maturity is being God-focused and other-focused, not self- focused. When I wallow in feeling rejected or let fear keep me from following Jesus in initiating, I’m focusing on me, as if it’s all about me.
But when I do initiate, even though it’s risky, trust me, it’s because I’m focusing on God and desire His best for the other person – even if that’s not going to be me.
7. The more you initiate the easier it becomes.
The hardest time to dive into a cold pool is the first time! The more you do it, the more it becomes a part of your life. It does get easier (never easy – but easier!)
Love risks. Love initiates. This is exactly what Jesus did with us. If we truly want to become more like Him, initiating is a key part of that!