Have you ever watched a toddler learn how to walk? It can be excruciatingly nerve-wracking for the parent! Watching your little child ‘toddle’, fall down, get back up, try again…you tend to hover over them ready to catch them if they fall, making sure they don’t get near real danger like a stairway or a road. Sometimes our desire to keep them safe from everything is at odds with our desire to see them grow and become more independent.
This same situation happens in the context of spiritual parenting. When you are discipling someone who is an infant or child spiritually, you want to protect them from becoming hurt, discouraged, or disillusioned. And there is a certain amount of protection that you need to provide as a disciple-maker. For instance, you wouldn’t throw a spiritual infant into an animated conversation on theology between two pastors who hold Bible degrees. But there is a balance between protecting them and allowing them to grow and stretch. It can be scary to watch your infant disciple try walking by themselves, but oh what joy you will gain when you see them taking their first steps!
Jim Putman, author of this blog, is one of the speakers at this year’s National Disciple Making Forum. Learn more and register here.
When the people you are discipling learn to pray, search the Word, and become involved in the family of God, they can begin to build a personal relationship with God that is meaningful and accurate. They can grow beyond being spoon-fed all of their spiritual nutrition and start connecting with God personally.
Spiritual children need to learn how to connect with God by doing it. Consequently, disciple-makers should not do everything for them. It is tempting to become an answer person, like a walking spiritual dictionary, but that is not best. We do not want disciples to be solely dependent on us. Intentional leaders help spiritual children use their connection with us to draw closer in their own relationship with God.
Encouraging the people we are discipling to find answers on their own is good! And allowing them to struggle through different issues without providing a shortcut answer for them helps them grow in their dependence on God. And that, my friend, is the ultimate goal of a disciple maker and exactly what God has called us to do.
Written by Jim Putman
This was originally posted on Jim Putman’s blog here. Used with permission.
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