I like to think I’ve encountered my fair share of quirky Christian trends. 24-hour prayer sessions. Pre-wedding lingerie parties. Haunted houses that bring people to Jesus (no, seriously, that’s a thing).
But one of the many buzzwords that has stumped me is discipleship.
“Discipleship is teaching biblical precepts, while modeling and guiding others toward living righteously as followers of Jesus Christ. This should be a cyclical process—meaning once we are discipled, we are to disciple others, and so on.”*
Discipleship can be made up of a mentor and mentee. Or, it can go two-ways in which both parties provide and receive guidance.
My friend tells me about how she meets her youth pastor every week for coffee.
“What do you guys talk about?” I ask.
She shrugs. “Life. Sometimes deeply spiritual stuff. Sometimes we laugh about something funny that happened that week.”
Another friend of mine mentors younger Christians. They open up to him about sin struggles, doubts, and conflicts in their relationships.
“I ask about certain areas in their life,” he says. “Like school or their home life.”
All this sounds good. Not to mention, the Bible encourages this sort of vulnerability between fellow Christians:
Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another. Jm. 5:16.
Encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 1 Thess. 5:11.
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations. Matt. 28:19.
However, after my friend explains discipleship to me, I sit back and say:
“But isn’t that just…friendship?”
Think about it. If you were to approach friendship with the same standards that discipleship requires, you would get the purest, most God-glorifying friendship ever.
Standard #1: You Feel Comfortable Opening Up to Each Other
You’re not afraid to admit a transgression to your friend. You receive correction graciously, trusting that it comes from a place of love. And you respond to their openness with the same love and honesty.
Standard #2: You Are Selective
You don’t just speak with anyone. Instead, you assess their character. Determine if they would commit to such intentional conversations. Are they going to be a positive or negative influence on you?
Standard #3: You Have a Goal
It’s the same goal for your Chia Pet: growth. You desire to mature and you desire to see your friend mature. To quote the (hungover) words an old friend of mine:
“If you look around one day and see that your friends are doing the exact same thing they were doing five years ago, that’s a problem.”
Unfortunately, friendships don’t always meet these standards. Not naturally. I’ve had seasons in which I hopscotch from one surface-level friendship to the next. Intentional friendships don’t just happen to me.
Discipleship is like ‘on-purpose’ friendship. That’s what weirds me out. It’s not natural.
And yet, at the same time, I get it.
From what I can see, discipleship hones in on the value of a true friend. And that, Savvy—Miss To-Be-or-Not-to-Be-Vulnerable—is something I think we can all get on board with.
Of course, with the right person. 😉
*“What is Discipleship?” All About Following Jesus