We asked our great friend and current college student, James Waites, to list fears college students have about the process of discipleship. Here’s what he came up with. For those of you who are discipling or are hoping to disciple college students, we hope this gives you insight and encouragement.
The college ministry that James is part of in Tuscaloosa, Alabama has embarked on a journey with an intentional, sustainable, and replicable model of discipleship. Three years ago the leaders began the journey, two years ago it was introduced to the rest of their college leadership, and this year it will begin to spread to the whole college ministry.
Here’s what James has to say about the process of discipleship and the fears he and others in the college leadership had:
For some of us, this idea of discipleship was completely new. We were excited to see how this new model of discipleship would work in our lives. However, just like with all things new, we had some fears and reservations about it. I write this as a college student in a leadership position on a college ministry. These are collected fears I and others have had when committing to the process of discipleship.
When we are first called, we automatically feel unprepared and unequipped. After that, we feel as if someone had been left out and someone who could do it better than we could.
Some of us had no idea what to expect. We heard the call but we didn’t quite understand the process of the call. For those who love details, there simply wasn’t enough. Somehow we missed the fact that what was naturally happening in our small groups, people gravitating towards others, was a form of unintentional discipleship that wasn’t being replicated.
When we started intentional discipleship, we learned that not only would we be invited into someone’s life but also having others enter ours. This means stepping into a new area of vulnerability. But what if our life was just simple? Some thought that they had a relatively brokenness-free life. They believed that even if they were vulnerable, their story wouldn’t be a catalyst for healing in the other people. They believed they couldn’t bring anything to the dynamic of the group.
What if we were too vulnerable? What if the amount of brokenness in our lives overloaded everyone in the room? Would they still look us in the eye and tell us that they loved us? The fear of being misunderstood and rejected, because of the brokenness in our lives, is the most common fear the college ministry faces.
“My initial fear was that there would be temptation to become the disciple of a man as opposed to a disciple of Christ.”
One of the smartest guys I know confessed that to me and I understood completely; would we really be seeing Jesus more and more through this discipleship process? Or will we just get closer to the person who is “discipling” us?
I’m expected to do it later.
When we stepped onto leadership, we were challenged with: we were to be discipled and to go and make disciples. We were already terrified of the first part of that challenge but now we have to make disciples? Reasons why we were inadequate flooded our brains. We didn’t understand that making disciples was the natural second step.
Is discipleship scary? Absolutely. Is discipleship necessary? Absolutely. As college students, we are able to confront these fears with confession and repentance, grace and vision, and eyes that look for Christ every step of the way and we aren’t doing it alone, we are doing it as a family.