Several months ago I wrote about what students fear when entering discipling relationships, from the perspective of a college student, on a college leadership team in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. You can read that here.
At the end of the year, that leadership team sat down to discuss our areas of strength and areas in need of growth for discipleship in the college ministry. This is what a leadership team of 90 college students, that called 220 other students into discipling relationships, had to say about beginning the journey of leading discipling relationships:
I don’t care that much about discipleship.
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” – Dr. Seuss
I think Dr. Seuss said it nicely but scripture says it best in that discipleship IS the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20). It is most certainly something that needs to be cared about. But you’ll find the journey isn’t easy, especially if you have some of the same reservations as below.
Note: If this is you (not caring about discipleship), you don’t have to read the rest. (just kidding)
Someone is more qualified than me.
This is how it seems to begin on both sides of discipleship. We think of ourselves as unprepared and unequipped, even though we knew leading a discipling relationship would be the natural progression of discipleship. The best way to combat this is to lean into the Spirit, the Word, and the ones who’ve gone before you.
And if you feel you aren’t qualified because you’re still in the process of learning: well, the best way to teach someone today is what you learnt yesterday.
My life isn’t worth imitating.
Like above, this usually happens in the beginning. We reflect on our lives and realize that we have nothing important to offer or that we’re too broken – and why would we replicate that? The great thing is, is that the reason we should be in discipling relationships is because of the rough parts of our lives.
I don’t want to feel uncomfortable.
Who knows what will come up when you gather 3 or so college students in a fallen world. Deep and dark stuff will come up. It will definitely be uncomfortable. There’s almost no way to avoid it either. However, don’t let that stop you; there are more people in your same situation. Even Scripture lays out examples of people finding themselves in uncomfortable situations. (i.e. Abraham, Jonah, and Mary, etc.)
Too much time.
Probably the easiest excuse to make. It’s totally understandable that a college student, probably taking 15+ hours and having a part-time job, might not have a lot of time left in the week to spend in a huddle. Two things; utilize the time you spend in work/class for discipleship AND make room for people, it’s that important.
What if I ruin their lives?
You will, but in a good way. You may flip their lives upside-down, which in reality may be right side-up. Jesus didn’t have a problem flipping tables (Matthew 21:12) and he’s not afraid to do that in their lives.
What if it ruins my life?
Same as above, it’s not just a life ruining experience, it’s life altering. Jesus can and will work things out in you to work things out through you.
Will I get hurt?
Definitely. The fear of getting hurt is the simple fear of failure. Sometimes you invest in someone and then sometimes they want to leave – yeah it’s pretty terrible, but that doesn’t mean that the Lord didn’t do something great. Take heart, you have a Redeemer for all things.
So, breathe and lean into the Spirit and the Word about discipleship. There’s not a set method for how we do discipleship and it may look different for some people. Look at the living examples of discipleship and those who’ve gone before you. Look at what Christ did, especially what he did. Don’t ignore the call because of the risk of failure. With grace, we are refined by failure. We live and thrive off of grace with it comes to the process of discipleship.
Is discipleship hard and sometimes terrifying? Definitely. Is it necessary? Absolutely.