Modern Lack of Discipleship and Its Implications

Discipleship is an important rite of passage that has always significantly impacted its occupants. For the mentor, they receive validation and recognition. Their words and ideas and knowledge have an impact. As they speak and teach, it challenges them to develop more and to think deeper – to be worthy of the honor. There is a responsibility inherent in mentorship for actions often speak as loud as the words spoken. For the disciple, being mentored provides growth and direction.  It provides security and a sense of belonging. It is also affirmation and recognition. “You are with me (we are together), I am proud of you and I will be with you through your struggles and stay objective and focused and help you find your way,  (I will heed your words and take them to heart and seek to follow in your steps for I recognize them as wise and useful).” The immense satisfaction of such a relationship is immensely helpful in development and growth for all have need of security and affirmation and belonging and direction.

The relationship of discipleship should be readily available and obvious. A father for his son, a mother for her daughter, an aunt or uncle for niece or nephew, an older established cousin for a younger cousin, grandparents for any family member are normalized choices. There are often those who out of necessity or love take on disciples. “I need an apprentice so someone can take over for me one day, or so I can be freed to pursue additional growth”, or “This person really needs someone like me and I can be an encouragement to them, or I want to be around this person and help them on the way.” There may be a younger person that an older person sparked an instant connection to or recognized some of their self in enough to know how to help. Maybe someone was down and out and someone extended a hand and showed them new ways of thinking and dreaming and doing. There are so many possibilities for discipleship that, even assuming blood-related family is lacking or far, there should be community members to fill the gap.

The damage to discipleship is devastating in modern times. This could be specified as due to popular culture, lack of responsibility, lack of reality, lack of realization of personal impact, and such a desperate neediness to find satisfaction in all the wrong areas, but in reality can be tied explicitly to lack of discipleship. When people lose a generation or two of discipleship, when fathers are absent, and/or family is scattered, and people are too busy to spend devoted action to showing someone the way, then such a huge gap in affirmation and recognition and direction leads to a canyon-sized gulf that seems near impossible to cross. Mothers are too busy working or playing to show their children the way, to speak to them, to demonstrate and guide holistically. Fathers are absent or working or tired and wore out and stretched to capacity, content to veg on the couch in front of the TV or seek release in funny videos on social media.  People are so overwhelmed with technology and constant impact of stimulus that they cannot just sit and be still and enjoy uninterrupted teachability. The older generation wasn’t discipled, so the next generation loses some of the impact and it spirals downward until all is just a farce and fun and games and self-seeking attitudes and actions. People aren’t told no, or that their actions are wrong. People say “Who am I to judge?” and “You can’t tell me what to do!” in all ages and stages of lives. They take the cop-out, the easy way, the I am offended and will remain that way so that I don’t have to grow and face the truth and the consequences. There is no recognition or affirmation or validation – three very crucial needs in a human’s life. When discipleship needs on both ends of the spectrum (mentor and disciple) aren’t met, coldness and hatred and hostility and apathy abounds.

This knowledge on discipleship and its true nature and implications could be a plea or a challenge or knowledge that breeds actions. Is it possible to change this tremendous downturn in personal responsibility and accountability brought on by discipleship without role models showing the way? Aren’t role models themselves the ones who show us how to accomplish these types of relationships? Is not Discipleship itself the very action of Role Modeling that teaches the healthiest types of actions and responses that are lacking today as well as the respect for the process and for the figurative elder guiding the way? It is very challenging to begin such actions without seeing it and having it demonstrated in day to day life. For some, finding a mentor can be finding someone with great aspirations who rose to the top of their field and seeking to emulate them although not personally knowing them. This way is not complete though because we still lack an important element of affirmation and validation and recognition. The best way to grow is through mutual reciprocation – for when we take out the “being known” in addition to the “knowing”,  a solid sense of belonging and security is still missing. Relationship is what challenges and develops and grows us. Discipleship changes lives and gives us the tools needed to be a part of the necessary cycle of accountability and respect – although we all know this is no easy task and why many seek to avoid these types of relationships. It is not good to avoid relationships, it is not good to avoid being an example, it is not good to keep silent lips and allow people’s actions to go unchecked, rather it is an imperative matter we speak out and allow others to speak to us in humility of heart and action, for in doing so, we all reap the greatest benefit.

 

 

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A Tale of Three Women – Part One

Brain (Hope) – There once was a woman. A really young woman. And she thought she was strong enough, good enough, wise and knowledgeable enough to make it through life whole and intact. Then she married a man. Well, a boy rather…for it takes some time for boys to become men and, to be true, for some it never happens. She loved this man for he loved her as no one else ever had. He adored her, placed her on a pedestal, told her how beautiful and special and rare she was. He showed her in words and deeds that she was the light of his life and that he would never place anyone or anything above or before her. And this boy lived up to those words, in the deepest sense of those words.

Heart (Love) – There once was a woman. A wise, kind, loving, peaceful woman. A woman who had encountered much, but by the grace of her creator, had risen above. She was still growing and learning and needed help occasionally, but she just knew that the world was a beautiful place and that good things would happen. She smiled at everyone and everything, laughed with people, looked for ways to encourage them. She saw the hurt in people and sought to help them, to reconcile damaged friendships, and to hug those who needed healing touch. She was surprised when a man came into her life, surprised but pleased and secure in the knowledge that this man was looking more and more like a genuine soulmate every day. They were genuine heart friends almost instantly, unusual for an opposite gender relationship, but they were able to share each other’s deepest feelings daily and connect often throughout every day. She always knew that he treasured and valued her, and she did her best to let him know she treasured and revered him. They both couldn’t believe their good luck. They knew that hardly anyone else, if indeed anyone else, had such a blessed, intimate, honest, open, and trustworthy relationship.

Spirit (Faith) – There once was a woman. A battered, abused, sad, lonely, heartbroken woman. A single mom, she had seen things and experienced things that only abused women with the heart-led gender could know. She was tired, so tired. She wanted to give up. In fact, she had no idea what kept her going every day. Well, that’s not true. It was her children. She hoped and trusted for better for them and the moments that strengthen any parent who loves their kids were the moments she drew all strength and momentum from. She had no idea what to do, but she sang, “What do we do, we swim!” to her kids and to her day. She was resistant when she swam into him. Resistant, but she knew that he was the one. She had wanted to give up, but one day she had prayed to the God. She told Him she was done, but she remembered how the God’s Son had prayed, “Nevertheless, not my will but Yours be done.” This seemed like a good idea, after all this Man was perfect and he had the best dad anyone could have. So she prayed, “I am done, but if You have different plans for me, let them happen now, in mankind’s time.” So he showed up and four months later they were married. 

The Twists of Time

I have been told that as a human, I am a social creature with social needs. In awe I looked at those around me as I grew older. How could they do this, and how could they say that? I vaguely remember thriving off the love and attention of others, but I can’t seem to remember when in my life that was. I watched and observed, quietly staying out of the limelight, gaging when and how people would act and respond so that I could choose to make their gazes and thoughts pass over me and move on. From an early time it all seemed rather meaningless and mundane, the ordinary interactions. I never spoke surface level, it greatly bored me. I questioned the deeper meanings and pondered the in-depth philosophies. I engaged people’s brains in surprising ways and found that some unexpectedly found it addictive. “Refreshing, invigorating, thought-provoking, I never thought of that!”, they said. People would sometimes seek me out to hear stories, some would listen time after time…”How do you do that! You never tell any story the same way twice!” I then realized that I always tailored my words to the audience based off of their interest level, age, gender, my knowledge of them (an early version of social media and Internet marketing perhaps). It seemed I could control people’s view of me in surprising ways to the point it became awkward…friends and acquaintances would meet and say, “I love her, she is so outgoing, fun, loud, quiet, reflective, giggly, boisterous, sweet, serious, honest, straight-laced, a prankster, always up to something, reserved, bubbly, so level-headed, flighty,…”. As they spoke about their impressions of me, they would begin giving each other really weird looks, and some even argued what they knew and what I would or wouldn’t do. I found it made them doubt me, though I had not been deceitful or dishonest.

I quit trying after some years. Settled into mundanity. Running and hiding at times from others, avoiding interactions. Refused to spark that light, or cast my pearls out there due to all the rather unexpected and often unforeseen results combined with the hardships life and time accord to us all in various attributes.

Fast forward a decade or so…I have been living to survive rather than thrive. I’ve become so used to not speaking or relating to others on an other than surface level where I meet them and just respond rather than initiate, react rather than create. My speech has dulled, I’ve grown accustomed to not being heard.

I am not satisfied with this. So now I must work at it, find new ways to interact, develop friendships that last. I listen and try to apply current events. I text or make phone calls, tell others what is going on in my life for the first time in years, listen to what is going on in theirs. I help people whenever I can, smile and make small-talk. I talk about the weather, kids and families, recipes and restaurants. But yet…I keep missing the mark. I am not connecting. Is it me? Or is it society?