Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Atmosphere of Vulnerability

Exposed. At risk. Vulnerable. No one likes to be that way. But being vulnerable with people you disciple will make you and them more like Jesus.

I remember the first time I experienced being truly vulnerable with someone I was discipling. I don’t know exactly why I chose to approach this situation in my life this way but I knew I needed a trusted friend to enter into a real battle in my life. I was struggling with a real pride issue. I was living in fear that people would not view me to be as good a leader as the man who discipled me. My self-centeredness was affecting my prayers for him, my friendship with him, and my ability to trust him. It was all my own sin and it was eating me up.
So I sat there and told the person I was discipling about this issue. I told him everything. It was HARD! There I was the “stronger, older, wiser, more holy discipler” throwing my real weakness and sin on the table.
I did not know what the person I was discipling would think or how he would react. It was a real risk for me. Would I lose his respect? His trust? Would he tell other people? Would he just turn around and run! The amazing thing was that he embraced my struggle with understanding, respect, deeper friendship, accountability and prayer. That person walked with me all the way through that specific struggle. I, the discipler, became more like Jesus because the one I was discipling walked with me.

Jesus was an amazing model of vulnerability with His disciples. It was much later in His relationship with them that He opened up the deepest things of his personal life to them. It was not day one of their relationship. It was 3 years in. In Matthew 26 He made known to them around the dinner table that He was going to be betrayed and handed over to be crucified. It must have been really hard for the 12 or should I say 11 to hear this truth. Jesus betrayed! By one of them! No way! What was also amazing about this moment was that in the end of that conversation Jesus led them to sing a song of worship (Mat. 26:30). He pointed them to God in His own hard moment. Then Jesus took them further into His soul by allowing them to come into the garden with Him. He did not have to do this.

“Taking along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is swallowed up in sorrow – to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake WITH ME.” (Mat. 26:37-38)

It was important for Jesus, the creator and sustainer of the universe, to allow those He was discipling to see the depths of his own pain. Jesus asked them to stay with him in His sorrow. The Son of God exposed. This was truly the atmosphere of vulnerability. Wow.

Jesus’ example has helped me see the great value of this principle:

Inviting those we disciple to see and walk with us in our deep struggles in life leads us both to become more like Christ.

What I have learned by being vulnerable with people I am discipling:

1. It is hard and scary – You never really know how someone will respond when you reveal deep things about yourself to them.
2. Once I take the step of faith to be vulnerable I find freedom to let go of many of my fears – I find freedom.
3. It is still hard – The enemy does not want me to become like Jesus.
4. It leads me to be more gracious and experience grace on a deeper level.

Practical Handles

1. Be completely honest with God about yourself
2. Pray for a commitment to genuine humility
3. Identify a person or people in your community that you trust the most.
4. Invite them to look at and listen to what is going on in your life.
5. Allow them to enter into the real battle for your walk with God by telling them the real “struggles” of your life.
6. Keep the focus on the glory of God in your life and not the struggle.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Atmosphere of Privilege

I can easily call to mind one of the most significant worship experiences of my life. One of them had to do with the guy that was discipling me, Tim. I was living in Little Rock, Ar. and serving in a ministry with him.

Tim decided to take a personal day to spend in worship at a local retreat center. He did not have to invite me along but he did. I’ll never forget sitting in the little 10 x 10 room pouring over the Bible (Is. 62) and allowing it to lead us in worship. We would read a little. Talk a little. Pray a little. Sing a little. I think we even cried some! There was no “plan” just God and us.

I was blown away at one point when Tim started to sing really LOUD! I think the song was “You Alone”. It made me a little uncomfortable at first but then I just joined in. I followed his lead into the presence of God. I experienced Tim in an intimate moment worshiping his Father in Heaven. It was amazing!

I learned deeper things about Tim.
I learned deeper things about God.

Tim brought me into the atmosphere of privilege

Matthew 17:1-8 helps me understand this principle in disciple making.

Those I disciple can have life changing encounters with God when I invite them into my personal worship.
Jesus did not have to take Peter, James, and John up on the mountain with Him. But He did. I think He did this so that they would understand on a deeper level WHO HE was. Can you imagine standing there and watching Jesus shining so bright that He “shone like the sun”?

I love Peter’s simple response to Jesus. Peter said, “It’s good for us to be here!”

If that was not enough a “bright cloud covered them and a voice from the cloud said: This is my beloved Son. Take delight in Him. Listen to Him.” God the Father spoke! Out loud! I can understand the disciple’s next response. “. . .they fell face down terrified.” If I were there, Matthew may have had to include, “and Doug had to go change his pants!” (was that inappropriate?)

Here is an important thing to note: The experience was more intense and the revelation into the reality of Jesus was deeper. They saw more of Jesus and they worshipped.

Our challenge is clear. As we disciple people, we should invite them to experience our own deep encounters with God. Bring people into your privileged moments with your Father in Heaven.
Some practical ideas:

• Invite someone into your home just to spend time in prayer and worship.
• Take a day to spend with God and ask someone to join you.

Maybe these ideas will help you think of more that apply to the specifics of your life. Be intentional. Bring someone along.