Friday, May 24, 2013

A Crown or The Cross?

Discipleship can be seen as a means to put a crown on yourself.

But Jesus's discipleship isn't about having a crown, but taking up your cross.

I was reminded with this as I review what Dr. Ramesh Richard shared this morning at GDC. True, CG leaders are vulnerable to the temptation to pin their CG members' quality or quantity on their chest as medals of honor. Sporting how "big" their CG is becoming, or how "mature" their members have grown, disciplers could consider their disciples their crowning glory. This could look great on the external, but it destroys the much more important - the internal condition of the discipler and the group.

1. Disciples become objects
This could easily lead their hearts into loving their disciples as "objects that bring them glory" instead of "people who needs relationship with the Lord". You begin telling all the girls you know to join your small group. You meet them for a few weeks.. And when somebody asks, you proudly say. "I have 20 members already!" and sound like a kid bragging how much candy he has. After receiving the glory for having these large group, you stop the actual discipleship. Your ultimate purpose for your small group has already been fulfilled, you have already received all the glory, why still do your best with them?

2. Focus is Self not Christ
Instead of being drawn to love Christ deeper and share in His story, they become "hypnotized" and more drawn to the glimmer and shine of selfish glory. A crown.
The Great Commission is considered quantity-wise most of the time, for glory. Okay, sometimes you care for the quality.. Only to let all the people see what you can produce.
 But if the self is the more dominant focus, how would Christ-like values be caught from you?

3. Discipleship is Perverted
There you go. The horror of introducing these people to the wrong, selfish definition of discipleship. The kind of discipleship unconcerned of the actual growth of the disciples. Merely concerned on the aspects of the disciples that can be seen by others. You require them to go to church (so people would think your group is visible). You want them to be involved in ministry for the wrong selfish reasons.

When they post pictures on Facebook that shows how their lifestyles swing back to their old self, you become like a police officer, "Hey! What's the meaning of that?!" But deep inside, you are afraid that people would judge your leadership by looking at the people you're leading.

You become the scary strict authoritarian.

You demand perfection (so you could say that you're the best leader).

And the scariest part is that, you raise up disciplers who are arrogant, perfectionists, proud and self-seeking like yourself.
A Crown.
Grabbed here.

But hey, you lift your "leader image" a notch when you are deceived to think that it is you who do all the work for the people you handle. I'm sorry, but to let you know, leaders have the littlest role in making Christ-like disciples compared to how huge the Holy Spirit's role is.
Your role is a one millisecond appearance in a movie that's all about what the Holy Spirit does in the lives of your CG members!

Moreover, prideful discipleship is the farthest from the kind of discipleship Jesus models.
If you are trapped in that selfish kind of leadership, aren't you preaching one thing and practicing another?
If it is Jesus that you want them to see, it is His servanthood, humility and pure love that should shine in your leadership! If you pursue this kind of leadership, this is what happens.. The exact opposite of the former.

1. Great Relationships with Disciples
Now, if Jesus is the center of your discipleship, you would consider having a genuine relationship with them as the most important thing in discipleship. Beyond what the people around you sees, you develop a special relationship with your small group members. You do not only meet them once a week just to have a very good report about your CG.
Like real friends, you expose to them every corner of your life. So that they will learn from you how to follow Christ as they see you following Him in every little aspect of your life.
You do not only meet on Sundays or on CG days, you all should know so well that you have a real relationship, friendship, connection, that would go on all the days of the week.
You do casual things together to bond, and consider these times as important as your serious time studying the Bible.
For you to see how Jesus spent His everyday life with His discipleship, you should erase the selfish mentality of seeing them as objects and see them as real people.
It is not your CG material that would teach them how to follow God.
It is your life.

2. Focus is Christ
Since the spotlight is not on you, you do not become fully dependent on your leadership skills. You become a lot more dependent on God's leading. You do not grieve because of your weaknesses, and hide them from your disciples. You humble yourself, show them your weakest points and let them witness what God does as you surrender these weaknesses to Him.
This is one of the most common mistake of CG leaders. You wanna be prim and proper in front of your small group, and when you're gone, you become another person. Eengk! Not authentic! What ruins your testimony to them is saying you're one thing and having them question seeing another.
They know you're imperfect. No need to pretend you're perfect.
But you have to let them see how Jesus outshines human imperfection.
After all, it is God's power you should depend on, not on your own.
In turn, your small group members would learn to fix their gaze on Jesus and not on you.
They will not see you, they will see God's work in you.

3. The Call to Make Disciples is Realized
Discipleship, the kind Jesus wants us to do and to pass on, is realized.
You are not multiplying people who are like you, you are reproducing Christ-followers.
Truly, it would be hard to teach others to follow Christ, if they don't see you demonstrating it.
But if you start truly living following Christ, your life would be like a magnet. People around you would want to live like you do, as they see how much joy and out-of-this-world fulfillment you get from following Him.
And your life's fruit would not only be believers - they would be Christ-committed followers who would share the same passion to "Go and make disciples".

Jesus had a big heart for His disciples - they were not mere objects to make other people "envious" of His leadership skills. He invested in them all He can, He shared to them all He knows, He demonstrated to them the Christ-like lifestyle they need.. He poured on them His purest love.
It's not easy. It's self-denial.
Its purpose is love, nothing more, nothing less, nothing else.

The cross.
Grabbed here.
Are you willing to be that discipler who does not want to make his/her own name known.. And only wants the Name above all names to get all the glory?
Photos grabbed here and here.

If you are a discipler reading this, ask yourself what you choose.
A crown or the cross?

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