It’s Saturday night. I’m laying in bed, everyone is asleep, and two incidents from the week keep replaying in my mind involving each of my sons oddly (well perhaps not too oddly) leading me to some thoughts about discipleship:
Incident 1 – Declan (4 years old) came into my room last week with his glasses clipped to his shirt collar and said “Dad, this is how you do it right?” I said “Sure buddy. Why?” He said, “This is how you do it when you get ready to leave the house.”
Incident 2 – I’ve been taking my kids for regular (near daily) bike rides since this whole quarantine thing started. Several times I’ve goofed around and started riding with my hands off the handle bars. This totally impressed my kids (obviously – even I was impressed with myself). With no more than merely showing them I could do it, my oldest son Braeden (10 years old) got the courage to try it and mastered riding his bike without hands on the very first try.
Both incidents remind me that my boys are learning from me in both big and small ways. They are learning by watching and then doing.
For Declan, I did not sit him down in a classroom and give him the history of sunglasses, the importance of UV protection, and the convenient places to clip on sunglasses when not wearing them. He simply watched, he learned, and he imitated.
Likewise, for Braeden, I didn’t sit him down in a classroom and discuss gravity, balance, motion, the invention of the bicycle, and on and on. He simply watched, he learned, and he imitated.
I can’t help but wonder; how much more are they watching and learning from me that will ultimately lead to imitating me? How many good things are they picking up? How many bad things? Good habits? Bad habits? Spiritual disciplines? Relationship matters? Character traits? And so on…all from watching, learning, and imitating.
And then I wonder – is this not what discipleship looks like? Is this not what Jesus did with the disciples?
Did he sit them down in classrooms with black boards and text books and go through a 12 week course on church growth models, history of the Bible, preaching styles, evangelism tricks of the trade, and whatever else?
Or did He model for them, they learned in the watching of Him doing, and then He sent them out to do what He did, and they learned from the doing?
It’s pretty fascinating when you look at what Jesus and even Paul and the other disciples did in the way of discipleship in comparison to what we pass off as discipleship today.
In fact, the disciples were often mocked as being “unlearned men” and people were astonished at the things they could do and the way they could speak… and they knew instantly they had BEEN with Jesus.
Acts 4:13, “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had BEEN WITH Jesus.”
Notice, Jesus’ idea of discipleship was not so much to disciple through class work, but through being with them, modeling for them, and then them imitating him.
Much like my sons with me.
We have much to learn about discipleship through the simplicity of the model Jesus gave us.
Photo by Kaboompics.com from Pexels
Great thoughts! I’ve got two young kids myself and am overwhelmed at the idea of what they pick up from me when I’m not even trying to teach them. Raising kids is a tremendous opportunity– one that provides insight into spiritual formation like you’ve pointed out here.