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Who am I to you?

It's sobering to look back on your wasted effort. I've wasted a lot of time trying to make disciples in ways that didn't work. And I guess in that respect, I'm like a lot of Christians. Too many of us who have committed to follow Jesus and make disciples as he made disciples are k…
By Seth Barnes

It's sobering to look back on your wasted effort. I've wasted a lot of time trying to make disciples in ways that didn't work. And I guess in that respect, I'm like a lot of Christians. Too many of us who have committed to follow Jesus and make disciples as he made disciples are kidding ourselves about a huge issue.

Yes, our information is good. We know the stuff that new believers need to grow as a believer. Yes, our commitment to help may be there. But because we don't have the guts to settle a specific issue, much of our effort may be wasted.

Jesus settled it by asking one simple question, "Who do you say that I am?" What he's asking is, "Who am I to you?" or "Do you trust me?"

This question must get settled if a discipler is to help a young believer grow in her faith. To become a disciple, you must change your behavior. You must do things you don't want to do. And you do them not because you fully understand, but because you trust your discipler.

The Buddhists get this. They invest their mentors with the authority they need to change behavior. But in America, we hamstring our disciplers. They have to spend years earning trust, hoping they can one day begin to ask their disciples to begin living differently.

 
In America, we are a nation born out of rebellion declaring our independence. We tend to struggle with authority of any kind. This can make it hard to trust. When someone says "you need to trust authority," we are likely to ask "why?" I know I do, and that's not necessarily a bad thing.
 
I'm not saying that you blindly trust a discipler. Nor am I saying that as a discipler you can tell a disciple, "Just do what I say." What I am saying is that until you settle this issue of "do you trust me?" you're not likely to help a disciple to make significant change.

For example, look at the difficult things Jesus said about forgiveness, worry, and treating people who wrong you. He's basically saying, "trust the people who have done you wrong." But how can I as a discipler encourage you to do that if you haven't really figured out if you trust me yet?

 
It sounds harsh to our modern ears. But read the sermon on the mount (Matt. 5-7). Jesus asks for radical, non-common sense type behavior from his disciples. "If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it." What? Who does that? To move to that standard of behavior takes trust.
 
And I admit, I have only rarely been able to appeal to trust with my disciples. I can't ever recall saying, "Do it because I said so." That just doesn't fly in our society. What happens instead is that I reason with them and line up my rationale and then they pray about it and consider what they're going to do. 
 
I was talking to a friend who is discipling a young lady. Her advice is brilliant. But my question was, "So what? Will she follow your advice or is it optional?" When you can ask a disciple to take hard advice and she does so, you've got authority in her life. Jesus had authority and he used it. He gave it to his disciples and he wants to give it to us. But we have to use it.
 
Settling the "Is your advice optional?" question requires asking another: "Who am I to you?"

Once you're clear about the authority you have in a disciple's life, real behavior change can start happening. As long as advice is optional, the discipling process is stuck in neutral.

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