Engaging in Tough Discipleship Questions

  • 17 October 2017
  • MinistryLift blogger

When you think of discipleship, what fills you with fear? 

My role as camp director of Camp Likely has given me the opportunity to meet and interact with many young adults and teens. These are teens who desire to follow Jesus with their whole hearts. They want answers to big questions as they face decisions about their futures, friendships, relationships, church, and faith. 

Some of the hardest conversations I have with them are about these big topics. These are challenging conversations because each one comes with a different perspective, sphere of influence, and specific needs. I really don’t want to give them cookie-cutter answers that I know "feel" good or are the "right" thing to say. I want to be able to engage in the conversation authentically, as Jesus did. 

This, however, has been seriously impossible. I have found that when I engage in conversations about sexuality, finances, faith, career, or relationships that I’m not sure what to say or what not to say. These are topics that are so personal, so close to the heart. I don't want to lose the relationship I already have with them by being too assertive with my views. 

My biggest fear in discipleship is being too forward. I struggle with the fine balance of listening and encouraging with correcting, or offering another way of thinking or doing. I know I limit the amount of hard conversations or questions I have because I don't want to lose the relationship. I don't want it to be overly serious. 

However, Jesus still requires me to be a disciple-maker. To be engaged. To be serious. To be fun. To be dependable. To be honest. To be faithful to His ways. 

In a world where many young people are choosing to leave their faith or live it out differently than in the past, I believe we have a call to still engage. Engage in what is going on with those who we are in relationship with. And if we can't even show up, what can we contribute? 

I truly believe that if I won't first address my fears about discipleship or my fears about the big questions or the grey areas of living for Christ, then how can I expect to be an effective disciple-maker? 

How can Jesus use your strengths and weaknesses to point people closer to Him? How can Jesus lead you to engage as He did? 

As we share some of our fears, I believe we will be able to consider what it means to truly engage in the tough questions, discover our role, and identify the obstacles that are stopping us. When I do this, I have noticed that I no longer feel stuck in my weakness but experience the joy of living in Christ's strength (Philippians 4:13).

A Bus Ride That Took An Unexpected Turn

  • 28 November 2016
  • Randy Wollf

busIt was going to be a three-hour bus ride. I sat down by myself and hoped it would stay that way. 

Just as we were about to leave the bus terminal, one more person got on the bus. Sure enough, he sat down right beside me.

Even though I still wanted to be alone, I started feeling guilty about my selfish attitude. I prayed, "Lord, if you want me to speak to this person, get him to say the first words." 

A few minutes later, the man picked up his book and started reading. I thought, "This is good."

Then, it happened. The man put his book down and looked at me. I started getting worried. 

His very first words to me were, "So, what do you think about God?"

For the next three hours, I had the opportunity to listen to and share the Gospel with my new, unsaved friend—someone who was obviously seeking truth. 

In John 12:42, we see that some of the Jewish leaders believed in Jesus. Yet, they refused to share their faith because they were afraid of getting kicked out of the synagogue.

In my experience, fear is one of the main reasons why I sometimes don’t share my faith. I’m afraid of what people might think. I’m afraid of awkwardness and conflict. Of course, sometimes I’m just selfish and don't really care about the other person. 

Yet, there is one thing that conquers fear and selfishness: love. If I really love someone, I am much more likely to help them. Obviously, I need to help people with their physical needs when I can. Yet, my highest calling is to help them take faith steps towards the One who took our place on the cross—the One who died and rose again so that we might have a deeply satisfying life both now and forever. 

Jesus’ love compels me to love others, even strangers on a bus. 

What are some of the fears that keep you from sharing your faith? How might Christ’s love help you overcome those fears?

Note: For additional help on sharing your faith, check out Six Ways Anyone Can Share Christ and Eight Biblical Reasons for Sharing Christ

Randy Wollf is Director of MinistryLift and Assistant Professor of Practical Theology and Leadership Studies at MB Seminary

Why Being A Mentor Isn't As Scary As You Think

  • 19 February 2016
  • Randy Wollf

There are few ideas that scare people more than the thought of becoming a mentor. Being a mentor is often associated with having great wisdom and being ready to deliver profound advice on a moment’s notice. While these skills are certainly helpful, the qualities of an effective mentor are quite basic. In fact, I am confident that you have experience in each of the skills that are foundational when mentoring others. Here are four skills for helping people take next steps based on the Leader Breakthru Coaching approach.

Skill #1 - Listening

We all know that listening is important. Yet, most leaders are not listeners. We typically pre-conclude and make recommendations because we think it’s more efficient. Leaders like to fix people and things quickly.

Active listening is holding off judgment and really trying to hear what the other person is actually saying and even thinking. To do this, we need to practice the 80/20 rule – listen 80% of the time and only talk 20%.

Here are five tips for listening better:

  1. Listen with your mind – Pay attention to what the other person is saying. Don’t let your mind drift to other matters, even though they may be pressing. 
  2. Listen with your body – Body language often communicates more than our words. Active listening means that we are facing the person and maintaining appropriate eye contact (and not looking at our cell phone).
  3. Listen with your words – It’s important to summarize what you think the other person is saying, so that you know you’re hearing correctly (and so the other person knows you are listening and care about the conversation).
  4. Listen with your intuition – As you are listening, you will sometimes begin to “hear” things beneath the surface. Your intuition will notice subtle cues that will help you say things that nudge the conversation in productive directions.
  5. Listen with the Spirit – If you’re a follower of Jesus, you can be confident that the Holy Spirit is guiding you. Ask Him to give you insight into the conversation and then to guide your responses.  

Take a moment to look at the picture below. What do you see? What’s happening in this person’s life?