Discipling another person is a give-and-take relationship where the discipler does most of the giving. Why do some people get discipled while others go through life unfathered, feeling like orphans? Mike Paschall wrote a blog that does a wonderful job of explaining one reason why – correlating a tornado's vacuum to discipleship.
One of the best scenes in the 90′s movie classic "TWISTER," is when Dusty is explaining to Melissa, about the "suck zone" of a nearing tornado. Melissa sits bewildered as Dusty describes the natural vacuum of a tornado when it is tearing up the countryside.
This same dynamic is important in mentoring and discipleship.
As that newborn "latches on" its mother, a signal is conveyed to her body to begin producing milk, thus meeting the baby's nutritional need. As the baby sucks, more milk comes.
Similarly, in discipling, spiritual son or daughters grow as they commit themselves to enter the "suck zone." Their spiritual hunger and desire to pull on the mentor helps them get the nourishment they need.
Ever notice that when Jesus asked Peter, James, Andrew and John to "follow me" that he didn't beg them? Jesus never demanded allegiance or devotion. He didn't phone them, text them, or try to get them to pay attention. Something inside of the disciples told them that being with him related to their destiny.
They chilled with him. Walked with him. Ministered with him. He answered their questions and talked to them about life, about another way to think and live. It was not a roaming seminary where he taught theological constructs.
I have young men and women who dial into Patti and I all the time for help. And it is a huge part of what we do in our ministry. But, the only way it works healthily, is for our spiritual kids to "suck and pull" for what they need. We cannot chase grown men and women for our place in their life. We have to wait. Once, they go to the "suck zone," we can freely offer what we can to help in their growth.
I sat with a young man this week, to talk about helping him work through some tough life issues. I asked him, "What percentage of this mentoring relationship do you see that you are responsible for?"
He said, "I've always thought it was like 50% me and 50% you."
I told him, "It's more like 90% you and 10% me. You're the one asking for help and direction. I can't chase you, inquire if you have done your work which I requested you to do, and call and arrange our meetings. You have to want this bad enough to pay the price."
The disciples left EVERYTHING to go and follow their master. They didn't have it figured out; they had no guarantees; they just went.
If you're talking about tornadoes, the suck zone is a scary place. When you are talking about discipleship and mentoring, the suck zone is the requirement of trust for all the machinery to work and flow properly. It wasn't an easy thing for the disciples to follow after Jesus. In fact, I think they had their moments where they longed for their old life and comfortable "go nowhere" routine.
It might still be scary for you to risk 90% of the effort, but it is how most relational kingdom leaders are raised.