It’s hard to explain just how crucial discipleship is. It is natural to need someone more knowledgeable and mature than yourself to assist you along the way, regardless of what it is you are trying to accomplish. As we grow spiritually in our understanding of our relationship with Jesus Christ, we all need to take the time to invest in the life of another, to help them grow as well. Keep these things in mind as you help to mentor others in the relationship with Jesus Christ and others.
The key to spiritual growth is a keen awareness of your relationship with Jesus Christ. Prayer allows us to connect with God and hear from Him, the plan He has for us. As much as you care for the person you’re trying to help grow, God cares so much more. He also knows, better than you do, exactly what the person needs for growth to happen. Allow God to speak and have the faith to listen and obey.
Challenge the person’s misconceptions about Christianity. Life as a Christian is not dull or boring, nor is a relationship with Jesus all about rules and to-do lists. Spend some time with the person you are helping to grow in a casual, enjoyable environment doing something you both can enjoy. This is a great way to build trust in the relationship and will help you, as a discipler, better understand them as a person.
Be who you are.
People also need to know that you are a real person, flaws and all. Sometimes, people are intimidated by the Christian life, thinking perfection is all that God accepts. Let them know that you too have struggles and areas of your life that God is still working to fix. By being transparent you take the lead in “taking your guard down” and the person you are helping to grow will soon do the same!
Sometimes, a person may learn more from thinking through a problem and eventually arriving at an answer than by being offered the solution immediately. Instead of immediately offering your advice as soon as there is an opening, continue to ask questions that allow them to think on their own and find the solution. This may also help this person to not be overly dependent on you for their growth. We want to teach them how to fish, by understanding the steps to finding the solutions to their questions, rather than just giving them a fish to eat for now, by simply supplying them with the answer.
Be careful not to try to parent this person. Try to remain objective as he or she shares their struggles. As soon as we begin to react negatively to the struggles in their life, we will become less effective as a catalyst to their spiritual growth. Build trust by being compassionate to the struggles and questions in their life.
Take it slow.
Trust is earned and developed over time. Generally, people are more likely to be open to accountability after trust is built. If it seems like we keep coming back to this issue of trust, we are! In any personal relationship rust is a huge factor in determining how transparent you are in sharing your life as well as how willing you are to listen to someone when they offer you advice. Becoming trustworthy is a long process that takes time, but is ultimately worthwhile.
Remember that honesty and vulnerability is key.
This will help you two to grow closer. Spiritual growth happens in the context of authentic Christian community. College campuses can be great places to develop a community. Take some time to develop the personal relationships of the members of your chapter, so that they have a personal connection with the other dedicated Christians and members of your chapter. It can be great for them to hear more than one voice that they trust encouraging them to grow spiritually, and being honest about their own personal struggles.
Don’t think too hard.
Much of discipleship is just “doing life” (or modeling your walk with Christ) with people. People will learn more from watching your actions than from what you say to them. So, spend some time together in a casual context, where they can see your actions first hand. Be consistent in your relationship with Jesus Christ even outside of your chapter’s weekly Bible Study and other events, and you will be speaking loudly without saying anything.
God by His Spirit is the One who actually causes growth to happen, not you. It is important that we always remember this. Our lives need to be rooted in our need for God. Never lose sight of this!
Have you seen some of these ideas work in your own life or in your Impact chapter on campus? Please leave a comment with how you have seen these ideas work or with any questions you have.