I’m enjoying reading Marcus Honeysett’s 100 Leadership Lessons blog series (not least to see if we get all the way to 100), and its no surprise to see that discipleship features heavily in the leadership mix so far.
Now I’m glad we’ve got 87 more lessons to go, because the Bible has a lot to say about how we train younger christians. But if we had to define what we are trying to do when we enter into this sort of intentional relationship, what would we say is at the heart (or in the DNA) of discipleship?
This weekend I’m giving some training for young leaders in the church (teenagers leading younger children’s groups). I was going to focus on growing the fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5, but then I was reminded of this exhortation from Peter in 2 Peter 1:5-8.
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Now there isn’t anything wrong with seeing these things as ‘fruit’ but I guess that Paul’s analogy is less meaningful today than when he first used it. When we think of ‘the fruit of the Spirit’ we are in danger of having the same attitude to this growing process as I have towards the apples in my back garden – i.e. I just expect to wake up one morning and their will be apples. And if I leave them long enough, eventually they will ripen and fall off the tree and I can collect them if I’m in the mood, or leave them for the wasps.
Friends at church run a small-holding and their attitude to fruit is very different. It takes time to plan, cultivate, prune, feed, protect and pick fruit, and the same is true for seeing transformation in our lives.
That’s why (on this occasion) I’m going to use Peter’s list of ‘fruit’ to explain what Christian leadership (discipleship) is all about. Faith is the starting point, but Peter is clear that unless we are actively seeking to grow in these areas (making every effort), we are in danger of being “ineffective and unproductive in [our] knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
So how do we nurture the growth of these qualities in the lives of young believers, and how do we ‘seek to poses them in increasing measure’ in our own?