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My miserable experience with discipleship

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As a junior in high school, my mom encouraged me to go on a two-month mission trip to Guatemala. That took a lot of effort on her part, because I was shy and had no desire to do so. She propped me up in front of her friends and had me ask for prayer support. I thought to myself, “Why in the wo…
By Seth Barnes

milkshakeAs a junior in high school, my mom encouraged me to go on a two-month mission trip to Guatemala. That took a lot of effort on her part, because I was shy and had no desire to do so. She propped me up in front of her friends and had me ask for prayer support. I thought to myself, “Why in the world would anyone ever want to support me?” Yet, they did. The trip changed my life and showed me that the poor had a claim to my time and energies.

But even with a mom like mine, I needed more. My middle school years were complicated. I felt as though I was being sent into exile from myself. I no longer went to my mother as a primary confidante. Yet there was no one to take her place.

One day a Young Life worker took me out for a milkshake. I had never met him before. Why did this older man single me out? I was both flattered and mystified. Someone was reaching out to me and affirming my significance. For a brief moment, a door was opened on the dark room of exile in which I found myself. Whatever he had to tell me was unimportant. What mattered is that I mattered – to him. He declared that in buying me a milkshake and spending time with me.

Unfortunately, that was the only meeting we ever had. I don’t remember his name and doubtless he’s forgotten mine. Other than my mom’s efforts, that was the sum total of my one-on-one discipleship. I’ve been clawing my way back to a balanced perspective on how Jesus intended for us to follow him ever since.

Maybe you can relate to my anemic personal experience being discipled by another person. I suppose it says a lot about the state of discipleship in America today. I’ve got a fire in my belly that says the current state of affairs needs to change.

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