Follow Up vs. Discipleship

“I am so frustrated!!!”  My friend exclaimed, “Sometimes she does what I ask her and other times not!  I never know what to expect!”

One thing that can help eliminate this frustration is understanding the difference between follow up and discipleship.

When someone first becomes a Christian, Jesus uses the analogy of a baby to describe them.  What do babies need?  To be fed, cared for, protected, given lots and lots of love… and to have their diapers changed!

In Ephesians Paul describes young Christians like infants tossed on the waves, not very stable and steady.  But in Hebrews 4:12 the believers are admonished, “Though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of God.  You need milk, not solid food.”  Unlike physical babes, maturing isn’t guaranteed for believers!

This is why we are encouraged to grow (Ephesians 4:15, 2 Peter 3:18)  and 1 Peter 2:2 points out how critical God’s Word is for helping us do this.  A basic fact for both physical as well as spiritual growth – you need to eat for this to happen!  But babies often won’t eat on their own.  What a difference it makes when they have someone help them eat and then learn to feed themselves.

When Billy Graham’s crusades started taking off and thousands upon thousands were coming to know Christ, he became concerned.  What was happening to all these people afterwards?  Dawson Trotman also encountered this same dilemma after picking up a hitchhiker.  When he shared the gospel, the guy prayed to receive Christ!  A year later while sharing the gospel again Daws realized this was the same hitchhiker from the year before – his life hadn’t changed one bit.  That’s what got Dawson on the track of seeing the need for follow up.  What a difference it made when someone came alongside a new believer helping him!  Hearing of this, Billy Graham came to Dawson and asked for help developing a plan for “following up” those who became Christians at his crusades.

So follow up is helping a young believer grow.  But what’s the goal?  What are you shooting for as you do this?  And how will you know when you’ve accomplished this goal?

You want to see them become a disciple of Jesus!  The Greek word for disciple, μαθητης literally means a follower and a learner.  Not just one who acquires head knowledge, but one who takes what is being learned and makes it the conduct for her life!  We want her to follow Jesus so she can learn from Him and increasingly become like Him, joining in with what He’s doing, bearing fruit for the Father’s glory!

Now in countries where there is extreme persecution of believers, when someone becomes a Christian, they have to be a disciple because to openly declare they are following the Lord, they have to be ready to die for Him.  But here in cushy, materialistic America that’s a bit more difficult.  Usually there is a process people go through before they are ready to die to themselves and commit to follow Jesus wherever He goes, doing whatever He wants them to do, whenever He wants them doing it.

Also, before someone is ready to say to the Lord, “Not my will, but yours be done” she needs to be able to trust His way really is better!  And that He is able to do a better job guiding her life than she is!  In our broken and fallen world, where people’s trust has been violated and hearts have been wounded this can be hard to do!

So here’s the kicker – you have to be a disciple before you are ready to be discipled!  A disciple is a follower and learner.  To follow someone you have to go where he goes and do what he does – and not just when he happens to be going the way you want to go!  But you won’t come to the point of surrender, where you’re ready to follow Jesus even when your heart is screaming to go the other way, until you learn to trust Him.  So follow up is not only helping someone lay a solid foundation for a lifetime of relating with Jesus, it’s helping her grow in trusting Jesus so she will become His disciple!

This takes us back to our analogy of a baby.  All babies need to eat.  But not all food is equally nutritious!  This is also true spiritually!

Think of devotionals as watered down food. They are akin to someone sharing what God’s been teaching them.  You can learn a lot from listening to others share, but don’t let this take the place of feasting on the pure milk of the Word!  Even brand new baby Christians can do this!  The key is how it’s served!

I don’t think I ever bought a single jar of baby food.  When my son was ready for solid food, I took some of what we were eating, pulverized it with a food processor and fed that to him.  The same food in small bits can be so nourishing to a child!

This is why I love having shared quiet times with new believers.  We’ll start with a sweet psalm of adoration (as opposed to the psalms of lament – which are wonderful!  but harder to digest!) and just select one verse to camp out in.  After they’ve done this for a while, and started incorporating it as a daily part of their life, then they are ready for some meat!

How do you grow in trusting someone?  By experiencing them doing what they say they’ll do.

This is where we realize how very great and precious God’s promises truly are!  God never had to promise us anything!  But he does.  And a key reason why is so we will have opportunity to experience Him being faithful to do what He said He’ll do ~ and grow in trusting Him.  One of the best things you can ever do with someone is help her learn one promise each time you meet, discuss it so she truly understands what God has and hasn’t promised and then encourage her, how will she take God up on this offer so she can experience Him?  Then the next time you meet ask how it went as she did this.

I am telling you folks, this is like miracle grow!!!

(for more specifics on how to do this, see the article in the Helps section entitled “Promise based Follow up”)

Now as she grows at times she may look like she’s following Jesus, but where the rubber meets the road is what does she do when God leads in a different direction than where she really wants to go?  This almost always involves a crisis, where she reaches a fork in the road and a key decision has to be made – will she go Jesus’ way or her own way?  It’s a crisis because it usually involves something very dear to her.

For me, it happened when the Lord asked me to give up my major in college and follow Him studying whatever He wanted me to (and He didn’t tell me at first what that would be!).  Now I’d always been one of those people with a ten year plan.  I was studying broadcast journalism and already hosted a television show for two years and had just been appointed the Assistant Programming Director for a radio station.  How I wrestled as the Lord made it so clear He wanted me to walk away from all this.  Then one day, in July of 1983, I came to the point of surrender, left that job and became “undeclared” in my major.  At that moment I became Jesus’ disciple.  I didn’t know where we were going, but I was committed to following Him each step of the way.

That was one big, “Yes!” that every day needs to be followed by smaller yeses!  And it doesn’t mean I always get it right. But it’s a direction I’m heading and by the grace of God I pray I keep heading throughout the rest of my days!

So you follow up someone until she is ready to follow Jesus wholeheartedly!  And then the adventure of discipling begins, of helping her learn what it means to follow someone she can’t see and helping her persevere even when all hell breaks loose because Satan is so not happy about this!

But oh the joy it brings Jesus!!!  :0)

The Wisdom of Questions

If someone came up to you and asked, “What do I need to do to get eternal life?”  how would you respond?

Would you dive in sharing the bridge or another illustration?   Ask them if they’d like to start reading through the book of John with you? Share your personal testimony?

At different times I’ve done each of these.  But here’s the crazy thing… that’s not what Jesus did!

He responded with a question!  (Matthew 19:16)

In fact, if you read through the gospels, nearly every time Jesus is asked a question, he responds with a question!

Not only can this help to clarify what the person is asking, it also engages them in dialogue, drawing them into the conversation.

This is not only helpful when doing evangelism, but especially when discipling someone.  There’s a fascinating  verse in 1 John 2:27, “But you have received the Holy Spirit and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true.  For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true – it is not a lie.  So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ.”

Once someone has entered into a relationship with Jesus, she has His Spirit living within her.  And God’s Spirit is so faithful to do what He’s promised to do – to teach us… if we’ll listen.  Over and over I am amazed at how true this verse is.

As I grasp the reality of this I realize my main job in discipling someone is not to teach her, but to come alongside and encourage her to remain in fellowship with Christ, to help her learn how to place herself in a position where she is able to hear what God wants to teach her and to help her learn to persevere in doing this.

A great way to do this is to ask questions – and teach her to ask questions.

The first question I ever ask before meeting with someone is of God, “What do you want me doing with this woman today?  How can I come alongside her and join in with what you’re doing?”

Then I seek to start our time asking questions about how she’s doing.  I recently met with a precious young woman who wanted to learn about forgiveness.  When I asked how she was doing she started to weep and share some painful things she was wrestling with.  It quickly became apparent learning about forgiveness was not the main reason the Lord brought us together.  When I asked, “What lies do you think the enemy is trying to get you to believe right now?” what followed was one of the most amazing one on ones I’ve had.  And I mostly listened!  Then together we considered the truth God gives in His Word to combat those lies.  And yes, we ended up in the last ten minutes talking about forgiveness as it tied in with what she was struggling with but do you see?  Without asking questions I so easily could’ve missed out on what the Lord really wanted for our time!

When I’m having a shared quiet time with someone I’m helping her learn to ask, “Where do you want me to focus today in your Word, Lord?”  “What do you want to say to me through this?” and “What difference do you want this to make in my life?”

You don’t have a daily quiet time to “be a good  Christian”  or to earn God’s favor.  You have one because this is an incredible way to learn to listen to the Lord and remain in fellowship with Him, so when He wants to teach you something you’re picking up on it and developing the discipline of responding and doing what He teaches you!  I cannot stress how radically life changing this is!!!

Now while I initially may “teach” them what I do, note the focus is on them showing up to learn from the Lord.  This helps them grow in their dependence on Him and not on me!

I need to be careful because it can be a heady thing having someone ask for your advice or ask you how to do something.  My pride loves to demonstrate what I know.  It’s so easy for that to kick in without me even realizing it and suddenly a one on one becomes a monologue.

But you know, when I take time to ask questions that really helps save me (and the woman I’m meeting with!) from this!

Plus it’s amazing how many times when I respond with a question I discover what she really is asking is rather different from what I first thought!

Good question asking is a skill.  It’s so much easier to “tell.”  But I have been amazed at how much more effective it is when my questions help people discover on their own the answer the Holy Spirit is giving them.

The good news is this is something anyone can grow in!  So I’m asking God for the grace to be more like Him in this.  And as I do, what a difference it’s making in my discipling!

It is finished!

One of the things I love about meeting with people is the way the Lord speaks to me and teaches me and challenges me through our time!

Just this morning I was camping out in Genesis 2 with a friend, showing her how when I pray through the scriptures I find it really helps if that flows out of rich time interacting with the Lord in them and then like to keep Him my focus as I pray.  So we started with a shared quiet time, then together prayed our way verse by verse through Genesis 2.  We didn’t make it past the first few verses when the Lord started speaking to me.  That whole idea of being finished just jumped right off the page!

You see, I never feel finished!  At the end of every day as I take time to process my day with the Lord I’m nearly always asking forgiveness for all I didn’t get done.  Just this past week I began to wonder about that.  After reflecting on the sweet things that took place I journaled, “…but there was so much more I could’ve done.  I wonder, am I off in my expectations?  Or am I sinning?  Because of my handicap I feel so tired after meeting with people and just want to veg.  Is that a reasonable expectation?  Yet there’s still so much undone…”

Even when I “finish” something, well there’s a long “to do” list waiting so I usually dive into the next thing.

Genesis 2 begins, “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished and all the host of them.  And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.  So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.”

Now God is still at work…  in my life, in the lives of those around me, all over this world!  So it doesn’t mean he finished all He was ever going to do.  But when the heavens and earth were finished and all the host of them, he stopped.  He rested.  And it was a blessed, holy thing.  He set a day apart to do this.

I wonder what difference it might make in my life if periodically after finishing I take time to acknowledge what’s been done, to evaluate, to delight in it, rather than rushing on to the next thing?!  God took time every day at the end of each day to do this.  At the end of the fourth day, He wasn’t bemoaning, “I didn’t get the fish created today!”  But celebrating the lights He had made and how He’d separated the light from the darkness.  Then at the end of six days He took extra time, a whole day to rest and enjoy!

This is so not the pattern of this world!  Or sadly, my world!  I thought, “Today, I’m going to take some time to write down what I’ve finished this past week and celebrate that it got done!”  But you know, I found it hard to remember what I’d finished…

My friend shared how she uses a post it app to keep track of what she needs to do.  As soon as something is accomplished it’s deleted.  And we wondered, how might we be missing out by not taking time to reflect on and celebrate what we’ve accomplished?!  I think I’m going to start keeping a list of what I finish each day!

And really I should be in awe that anything gets done at all!  In Genesis 2: 7 we’re told, “then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and the man became a living creature.”  Did you catch that?  We came from dust!  It’s a miracle we can do anything!

Once again it seems the enemy has incited my pride and is royally robbing me because of it.  I think more highly of myself than I ought and as a result I expect more from myself, rather than realizing, even washing the dishes is a miracle!  What expectations do you have for the dust on your coffee table?!

So I wrote in my journal on top of the page where I’ll be recording my end of the day prayers tonight, “Look what dust formed by God did!  Isn’t God amazing?!”  Because really this is all about Him.  His works are wonderful!  He is the breather, the life giver, the enabler!

And He is a finisher, evaluator, delighter, blesser and rester!  How I long to keep growing and becoming more like Him!  Did He ever give me new insights today in how I can…

Got to love the way I’m being discipled as I meet with others!  :0)

The Joy of Active Learning

What’s the best learning experience you ever had?  What made it so helpful?  Most likely it wasn’t a time where you simply sat and listened to someone.

I am currently taking an art journaling class and it is wonderful!  Every week I learn so much!  But there’s barely any time spent sitting still listening or scribbling notes.  The instructor gives us step by step, direct guidance helping us create a picture similar to one she already fashioned.  As she’s teaching it, we are doing it!  But she also gives us freedom to be creative as we make our own pages.  In the process, are we ever learning new art techniques!  This really is a wonderful way to learn!  And that’s not only true for art journaling classes…

People really do learn best when actively engaged!

Recognizing this, adult learning specialists identify four types of learning tasks:  Inductive task, Input task, Implementation task, and Integration task.  Now that may sound a bit heady, but I have to tell you as I attended a workshop on this today I was amazed to discover my best “one on ones” really do employ all four types of tasks.  Can this ever help to de-mystify why some “one on ones” are so impactful whereas others aren’t.

For example, when I share with someone for the first time how to have a quiet time, there are four key things I do:

1.  First, I ask her to share with me what, if anything she’s done before for a quiet time.  As she describes the different things she’s tried in the past or even what she’s doing currently I always ask, “How is that working for you?” Nearly every one admits to struggling so there is an eagerness to want to learn something that will truly help.

This is one example of an inductive task.  “An inductive task begins with the life and experience of learners and describes their present conception of the topic.  An inductive task sets the stage for learning by showing what the person already knows.  In a well designed inductive task learners are connecting their life-long experience to new content.”**

2.   Then I ask if she’d like to see what’s benefitted me for the past thirty years.  I show her my current quiet time notebook and explain what I do, then give her a notebook so she can write the outline down in a format ready for her to use.   (eg., “Look, Listen, Live It out”)

This is an example of an input task.  “Input tasks invite the learner to grapple with new knowledge, skill or attitudes.  The learner is challenged to do something with this in order to learn it.”**

3.  Next we do a shared quiet time together – this truly is my favorite part!  (For more specifics on this see the article “How to have a Shared Quiet Time” in the Helps section)

This is an example of an implementation task.  “Implementation tasks invite the learner to use the new knowledge, skill or attitude in the learning environment immediately.”**

4.  Finally, I give her a bookmark listing suggested Psalms she can go to for quiet times in the coming week and encourage her to do so on her own.  Sometimes I even encourage her to do with someone else what we’ve done together, helping a friend learn how to have a shared quiet time!

These are both examples of integration tasks. “An integration task invites learners to apply what they have learned to their life and work.  Typically the participant would select a time after the program and agree to send a report to the facilitators when this has been accomplished.”**

As much as possible seek to utilize all four types of tasks each time you meet.  One of the worst things you can do is get together and spend the whole time telling her things!  And while the names may sound daunting, it’s actually very basic – find out what she already knows, share with her something new that can help her and spur her on, do it with her, then encourage her to do it on her own.

And note – there is a best order for these tasks occurring – you don’t want to wait till the end to ask, “By the way, what have you done in the past?!”

Once again I am in awe of the Lord and the way He so faithfully guides when I take Him up on His offer in James 1:5, asking Him for wisdom while preparing to meet with women!  Does it ever bring joy discovering reasons why His ideas work!


**All quotes are copied from a handout by David Dougherty distributed at his “Using Learning Tasks”  workshop given at Navigator Headquarters, October 16, 2013.  More information on these learning tasks can be found in Jane Vella’s book Taking Learning to Task.

Discipling Like Jesus… part 2

So… this is the first time I’ve tried doing a blog in two parts – but I’m thinking there might be some of you who’d enjoy getting to experience first hand a taste of what I do when I’m meeting with someone one on one helping her learn how to disciple others.  I only wish I could be sitting on the couch with you doing this in person!  :0)

To get the full benefit of this, if you haven’t yet read and done part one, go check it out and after reading through Luke 11:1-13 create a chart and answer the three questions:

  1. What can you learn about discipling from this interaction between Jesus and His disciples?
  2. For each observation, consider:  Why do you think Jesus did this?
  3. How could you apply this when you are discipling the women you meet with?

There really is a ton to be learned from this passage!   Here are a few things that stood out to me!


Note this entire discourse begins with Jesus praying.  I cannot stress how vital modeling is in discipleship – it’s not just what you say!  What you do has a much greater impact!  Now Jesus wasn’t doing this just to model for the disciples, but as he prayed, did it ever capture their attention!  As we look at the Scriptures we see it was a way of life for him. Don’t just meet one on one with someone, give them opportunity to see you live out your relationship with the Lord in your daily life.


And note this discussion was prompted by the disciples.  They observed Jesus doing this as well as John teaching his disciples and they were curious.  People learn things much better when it’s something they are interested in and want to learn.  That’s not to say there aren’t times when it’s important to cover things they may not have thought about before.  But when possible, taking time to discover what someone is curious about and focusing there can really increase the impact of the lesson.


Note how Jesus begins giving them something simple and organized, a model they can easily remember. This is so impactful.  This doesn’t include everything Jesus ever taught on prayer.  He didn’t feel like he had to cram all that could be learned into one lesson!  But is it ever a great way to start!

This is why I love to use the Look, Listen, Live it out model for teaching someone how to have a quiet time.  Not only is it easy for them to remember the next day, but it’s also easy for them to remember so they can pass it on to someone else!

There’s a fascinating book called Making Things Stick that explores how to present information in ways people will remember.  This book stresses, keeping things simple and organized can really help!  As my friend Dave Hawes says, “The more organized something is, the more passonable it is.”  and not just from you to her, but also for her to pass onto others!!!

For example I was doing a sexual purity video and had nine practical suggestions for how people who are struggling can experience victory in this area of life.  Who can remember nine suggestions?!  So I asked the Lord if He’d give me an idea for how to communicate this in a way that would stick and He brought to mind the three parts of the briar:  roots, stem, and flower.  So using a large picture of a briar, I shared three suggestions for each of the three parts!  Did that ever stick!  (no pun intended! :0)


Note Luke 11 wasn’t the only time the Lord taught the disciples about prayer.  In Matthew 6:5-14 we see the Lord teaching the disciples to pray using this model again.  Repetition is so valuable!  Don’t just teach something once and then move on, assuming she got it.  Periodically coming back to go over something, teaching it in a bit of a different way can be so helpful!

Note in Luke 11 Jesus only teaches part of this model for prayer – in Matthew 6 we see an expanded version.  But in Luke 11 Jesus spends more time talking about the parts He does present.


So first he teaches them part of a simple model, then he takes time to help them understand.  He starts with the whole, then breaks it down focusing on one key part at a time.

And He seeks to help the disciples understand the character of who they are praying too as He does this.  Just as in the Bible the main character is always God, so in your one on ones let Him be the focus.

And it’s important the one you’re meeting with understands what’s not being said, as well as what’s said.  You want to try and anticipate ways the enemy might try to twist what you’re teaching and get her off track.  For example, after Jesus instructs the disciples, “ask and it will be given to you,” He goes on to explain God only gives good gifts.  So when you ask you will receive something, and it will be good!  But you may not get exactly what you’re asking for!

Do you see how the enemy can have a heyday with this if someone is expecting to always get exactly what she asks for?


And then Jesus ends highlighting the best thing they can ever ask for and be given!  Be sure to end your explanation highlighting what is most important and giving her ideas for how she can practically apply what you’ve just taught her in her daily life.

Note Jesus doesn’t exhaust them with a long dissertation on this subject.  He briefly teaches them a simple model.  Then explains what they need to know to get started and be motivated to start.

Now we don’t know what happened next.  Scripture just gives us brief snapshots, so I’m going to take the liberty to add on two more things that I’ve observed from other passages of Scripture that help me finish well when I’m meeting with someone.

7.   DO IT WITH THEM!   (Luke 9:13-17)

I have found it so helpful to not just tell people how to do something, but when I take time during our time together to do it with them – that’s when it really sticks!  This provides a great launch for getting them started!

For example, when sharing the Lord’s prayer with someone, I don’t just tell them about it, I pray through it with them!  And not rotely – remember it’s a model, not just a verbatim prayer to pray!   And as we pray through it, we take turns, with me going first, praying one phrase at a time, expanding it a bit to share what’s on our hearts that relates to each phrase.

8.  GIVE AN ASSIGNMENT  (Mark 6:7)

And then I end with an assignment such as, try praying through this model once a day for the next week (which is something I seek to do at the start of every day in my own life, right after I wake up each morning before I get out of bed and truly have found to be life changing!).

This is where the rubber meets the road – why you’re sharing this with them in the first place… so they’ll do it!

Incorporating anything new into one’s life rarely just happens!  That’s why discipleship is so helpful in the first place!  Be sure you consider not just what you’re going to tell them, but how to intentionally spur them on towards love and good deeds!

And as you do, can following Jesus’ example ever help!

Discipling Like Jesus… part 1

One of the best ways to learn what to do with someone when you are discipling them is to look at Jesus’ life and note what he taught his disciples.  There is so much to learn from His example – not only about content but also how to pass treasure on.

For example, consider Luke 11:1-13…

Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”  2 And he said to them, “When you pray, say:

             “Father, hallowed be your name.

             Your kingdom come.

3              Give us each day our daily bread,

4              and forgive us our sins,

                        for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.

             And lead us not into temptation.”

 5   And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, 6 for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; 7 and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? 8 I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs. 9 And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 11 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

In a recent one on one I read this passage with a friend, then asked her to take a few moments and answer the following questions (it’s helpful if you create a chart with three columns, with one question from below heading each column):

  1. What can you learn about discipling from this interaction between Jesus and His disciples?
  2. For each observation, consider:  Why do you think Jesus did this?
  3. How could you apply this when you are discipling the women you meet with?

It’s pretty fascinating if you take the time to do this!  Why not take a few moments right now and dive in?!  ;0)

Keep It Simple, Sweetie!

Now there is not just one way to enjoy a quiet time or do scripture memory or pray or spend extended time alone with the Lord.  Different methods work for different people at different times.

However, when you are first teaching someone how to do something it is wise to start with showing them just one way – later on you can always teach them alternative methods or tweak what you showed them to better suit their personality and preferences.

But if you try to show more than one method at a time it usually adds confusion and what you’ve intended to help can actually end up being a hindrance as they then have to choose what to start with before they even start.

As they say with the old acronym KISS – Keep it simple, sweetie!

So how do you select which one to start with?

I usually start with the method that’s worked best for me so I’m passing on what’s impacted me and helped me the most.  Whether it’s what will ultimately work best for them or not, I am letting them see more of my walk with Jesus – and that is so important.

But there are exceptions to starting this way– especially if someone struggles with a handicap.  Once my husband was meeting with a guy who seemed so eager to get together and grow but whenever Jim would challenge him to read something, even the Bible, on his own he never did.  It was so perplexing.

Then we found out he had an extreme case of dyslexia and couldn’t read. This definitely requires adjustments!  Once that came to light Jim started having him listen to the Word – what a difference that made!!!

So again, don’t follow a set plan, follow Jesus!

It also really helps if the first method you teach is well organized and easy to remember. Not only does this help her know how to do it the next day when she is on her own, but she is more likely to pass on something simple

For example, when I teach women how to enjoy a quiet time I follow the outline: Look, Listen, Live It Out (you can read more about this in the Helps section). It’s not that this is the only way, but it’s what I’ve been doing for thirty years and benefiting greatly from!  Plus, it’s simple and easy to remember and still covers the three key parts I have found so vital for being transformed by my time with Jesus – focusing, meditating, and application.

Over and over I am amazed at how many women, after just sharing one quiet time with me turn around and do this with someone else!  I truly have found the more simple, organized and memorable something is the more likely it is to be passed on.  This is key for discipling generationally!!!

And please note, keeping it simple, isn’t just of value when you are meeting one on one with someone – if you are ever asked to give a workshop, keep it simple!  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve met with students after they’ve attended introductory workshops on a spiritual discipline and they never got around to doing it because they were immobilized by all the options.

Instead, whether you’re doing a workshop or showing a woman one on one take time to do the discipline together!  Don’t just tell how to do something!  Model it and let it be experienced… and be amazed at how much more likely people are to do this on their own after actually doing it with you!

And, if possible, don’t just do it with her once.  We live in an information based society – where we’re always seeking something new.  And it’s easy when discipling to think – I’ve showed her once, now let’s move onto the next topic.  Remember it takes six weeks for something to become a habit.  Since the goal isn’t for her to know about spiritual disciplines, but to do them so she can be transformed as the Lord works through them, you have to take this into account!

It is not uncommon for me to dedicate at least six weeks (if not double!) focusing on one spiritual discipline.  Yep!  All we focus on week after week is doing that one discipline together, helping her not just learn how to do it, but giving opportunity for it to be incorporated into her life.

For this to happen there not only needs to be repetition, she also needs time to experience the life changing benefit of doing this so she’ll be motivated to keep doing it even after we’ve moved on to something else – or when I’m no longer around!

So keep it simple, sweetie!  This simple principle really can help you – and those you’re meeting with get off to a good start!

Learning to Learn

The original goal of a liberal arts education was to equip people so that by the time they graduated from college they would know how to study any topic on their own.  That’s why it’s called “Liberal Arts” – because the goal was to liberate people from needing someone to teach them!

Ever wonder why in college you have to take so many courses “you’re never going to use?”  It stems from this educational philosophy.  The goal wasn’t to cram content in, but to equip you with as many different learning tools possible since there are different ways of learning different topics.  Studying biology requires different tools than learning physics!

I was blessed to be discipled by Barb Choate for two years when I was in college.  But you know, Barb didn’t teach me all I needed to know for walking with Jesus these past 30 years.  What she did was lay a foundation, helping me learn how to learn from Jesus so I could keep following Him.

All those spiritual disciplines – they are not ends in themselves, but ways of learning to learn – of helping you show up for Jesus to teach you.

Having a quiet time? That’s learning to listen – a foundational part of the learning process – it all starts here!

Scripture memory?  That’s learning to remember – another key part of learning!

Fasting?  That’s learning to focus!

Praying? That’s learning to ask questions and interact with your teacher! :0)

Bible study?  That’s learning how to observe, interpret and apply!!!  Especially when you teach how to inductively study God’s Word.

So don’t feel like it all depends on you to teach someone everything they need to know when you are meeting with them. And be careful you don’t disciple in a way that promotes the person you meet with becoming dependent on you!  (btw that’s a quote from my husband!  :0) Instead, equip her with tools, helping her learn to learn from Jesus and you will be laying a foundation for a lifetime of learning!

From Diapers to Driving!

Every Sunday morning across America, people wake up, get dressed, drive to church, sing a few songs, listen to a sermon… and leave.  Sadly many give little thought to what was heard.  Christianity in America is full of expert hearers and negligent doers.

So many people don’t get Jesus’ parable of the wise and foolish builders and think it’s about avoiding sand. (Matthew 7:24-27)  Please note, both men “heard” the Word ~ the difference was what they did with it.  But here’s the kicker, most do not naturally do something in response to what’s heard – what’s natural is to listen, smile, nod… and then forget about it.

I have found this can also be true when discipling women.  Unless there is intentional effort to walk young believers through actively applying what’s been discussed, it often goes in one ear and out the other.  Everyone needs to learn to be a doer – especially to be a faithful doer.

Nike’s “Just Do It!” ad sounds great, but the vast majority of us need help getting out the door to exercise.

Application is spiritual exercise.  It’s when we follow James’ admonition to be doers of the Word and not just hearers of it. (James 1:22)

One way I help those I meet with learn to do this is by giving them an assignment each time we meet related to what we discussed.

In the beginning I need to be directive.  That includes not just telling them what to do but also giving input on how to do it.

Now I may dialogue with them to clarify what’s workable for them, but in the beginning I prayerfully determine what the assignment is.  And I make certain the assignment is SMART:

SpecificNot vague like “Why don’t you review the verse we learned this week” but “I’d like you to review the verse we learned three times each day this week”

MeasurableYou want them to be able to clearly know whether they did it or not.  For example, “I find it helpful to write out the days of the week on a 3×5 card with three boxes for each day and then have a friend listening check one off after each time she helps me review”

AccountableI make sure they know I’m going to ask next week about this and I make it a priority to truly ask how it went at the start of our time the next week.  This is so important!!!  Do not forget to do this!  

Realistic – Not “memorize the whole Bible by next week!”  but something simple that’s do-able… like one verse?  Maybe…   This will vary from person to person!   It’s not – is it realistic for a person to be able to do this, but is it realistic to expect this particular person will do this?!!!  For example, if someone is an easily distracted procrastinator like me,  I like to take time to memorize the verse together then ask them to review on their own throughout the week – because while it may seem realistic to ask people to memorize one verse during the week, I’ve found it usually doesn’t happen unless they are highly disciplined or motivated – or not until the last minute right before your next meeting!  And rushing to learn a verse right before you start on the next one – well, you don’t really learn it that way!

TimelyNot something they’ll do ten years from now but within the next week.

So in the beginning these assignments are very discipler directed (which hopefully is totally God directed!!!) but my ultimate goal is to work myself out of a job!

As they grow I want application to become a way of life for them, something they automatically do whenever they hear or read God’s Word.  and for this to happen eventually they have to learn to not depend on someone telling them what to do.

Baby Christians need you to be direct, but ultimately the goal is to get them into the driver’s seat.  So over time, as they grow, it’s vital I gradually shift into coaching – helping them decide how they are going to apply what we discuss, because I’m not always going to be around!

When you coach, you ask a lot of questions and let them come up with the answers.  For example, “What action would you like to take this week to live out what we’ve just discussed?”  Then ask more questions to help them make it SMART!

Ultimately, I want them to come up with their own SMART applications, because that’s really where life change occurs.

As I’m doing this I’m not only helping them be wise and apply what we’ve discussed, I’m also modeling for them what application looks like.  It’s also helping them learn the importance of processing.

And the role of accountability, especially as someone is learning to do this can’t be emphasized enough!  I honestly believe this is a huge difference between hearing a message in a large group vs. one on one  – you are much more likely to act on what you hear when you know someone is going to ask you about it.

With that said, it’s vital they know this isn’t about pleasing me.  And it’s not about their value or acceptance as a person whether they do what I ask or not.  But a disciple by definition isn’t a passive learner but one who makes what they are learning their rule of conduct – one who acts on what she hears!

So giving weekly assignments that are SMART and then gradually helping someone learn how to make SMART applications on her own not only can help her become faithful in applying what she hears, but it also acts like miracle grow – taking young disciples from diapers to driving in record time!

The Power of Processing

I’ve never been much of a scrapbooker.  I made one when Jim and I were dating, but that was years before Creative Memories and it was a rather simple affair.  But one of the girls I was meeting with loved to do this!  And as I was praying, asking the Lord what He’d like for us to do during our next time together, He gave me the idea to take her to a scrapbooking store and let her pick out materials to make one page summarizing the key thing the Lord recently was teaching her.  Little did I realize the treasure we were both in for!

She was soooo excited!  We started our time praying asking the Lord to guide us, to bring to mind what He wanted us focusing on and to help us create a picture that represented this.  It turned out most of our time that week was used just selecting supplies so I asked if she’d complete her page during the coming week and then share it with me at our next one on one and I decided I’d create one too.

Now at first I was bummed that our entire time was taken up by the selection of materials – what kind of one on one was this?  But you know, it was amazing how we both experienced the Lord even through the process of deciding what to use as well as when we had to think through the lessons we’d been learning to select one.  And then as we started putting our pages together it was like the Lord was right there with us, not only helping us create a picture of what He’d been teaching us, but the actual process of creating helped us further process and internalize that lesson even more!  And what a powerful time we experienced the next week when we shared our creations!

Shortly after this a friend shared with me how he’d been reading all the verses in the Bible that talk about remembering – and realized how incredibly key it is to take time for this.

Numbers 15:40 ESV

So you shall remember and do all my commandments, and be holy to your God.

Deuteronomy 8:2 ESV

And you shall remember the whole way that the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not.

Deuteronomy 8:18 ESV

You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day.

Deuteronomy 16:12 ESV

You shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt; and you shall be careful to observe these statutes.

Deuteronomy 32:7 ESV

Remember the days of old; consider the years of many generations; ask your father, and he will show you, your elders, and they will tell you.

(And that’s but a taste!  The  word “remember” occurs 162 times in the ESV Bible!)  

Prior to this when I thought about spending time one on one with someone I was always forward focused – what’s going to help her move forward and press on in her walk with God?  But this experience really highlighted for me how vital it is we periodically take time to intentionally remember, and process deeper what the Lord is teaching us.  The irony is, taking time to look back, process and remember, really can spur us on even more!

Fast forward a few years to our sabbatical last summer.  I asked the Lord if He’d give me a creative way to remember the lessons He’d be teaching me throughout it.  That’s when He led me to art journaling.  Again I was blown away at how taking time to create a picture of what He’s teaching me helps me learn on a deeper level – and sometimes even figure out what’s going on in my heart!

And you know, this takes place in a format I actually enjoy looking back through and praying through – which only serves to help me remember even more!  (I’m a very messy writer and an external processor who writes volumes every day just to think and pray – I would never want to go back and read all of that!  But I love to look at these pictures!)**

Recently a friend asked if her Bible study could come over and art journal with me.  We paired up and shared a quiet time in Psalm 139 and then took time to create an art journal page illustrating what the Lord laid on our hearts. It was so precious to hear each woman share and “see” what she was learning!  I cannot recommend highly enough doing this!

So now, when I meet one on one with someone I will periodically take time for us to actively, creatively process what the Lord’s been teaching us.  At the end of a semester, the end of the year, the end of a Bible study ~ these are all great times to do this.

In fact, at the end of one summer training program after we’d inductively studied the book of Genesis, as a way of further processing what we’d learned I encouraged the students to go back and draw a quick sketch or do word art, featuring on an index card the main thing from each chapter that stood out to them.  Talk about a fun and insightful way to review and help summarize when finishing a Bible study!

As it says in Ecclesiastes 7:8, “The end of a matter is better than it’s beginning…”  Don’t miss out on the best part by rushing onto the next thing!  Taking time to further process and remember can enrich and deepen your relationship with the Lord, and with those you are discipling!

(**NOTE:  you can find examples of this art journaling at ~ I put this together for friends who wanted to “see” what I was doing during my sabbatical last year :0)