Teaching Your Disciples How to Love #1

Love is the mark of a follower of Jesus.  Yet for many, love does not come easy.  It is vital in the training of your disciples that they learn not only how to express their love for others, but also how to receive love from others.  Some love easily but have a difficult time accepting love, while others receive love with no trouble but have a difficult time expressing love.

Recently I was with one of our groups of disciples and in my private conversations I was impressed with the love each of the members had for one another.  I had assumed that they all knew of this mutual respect, but later I found out that none of the members had expressed their love to the others because embarrassment had closed off their heartfelt affection.   Immediately I went to each person (most issues are best resolved outside of a group meeting) and gave them the assignment of meeting face to face with each member to express their love exactly as they had told it to me.

Kierkegaard exhorts us:

Your friend, your beloved, your child, or whoever is the object of your love, has a claim upon its expression also in words when it really moves you inwardly.  The emotion is not your possession but the other’s . . . you should let the mouth speak out of the abundance of the heart; you should not be ashamed of your feelings and still less of honestly giving to each one his due. [1]

Some tips I have learned along the way:

  • Encourage your disciple to express the specific reason(s) why he loves another rather than just a general “I love you, man!”
  • Help your disciple look for opportunities to serve others in the group.  Nothing says “I love you” like meeting the need of another.
  • Discuss with your disciple the strengths of others and then encourage him to express his appreciation for those strengths to that individual.  It is easy to focus on the weakness of another which causes us to be blind to his strengths.  “Wherever there is building up, love is present, and wherever love is, there is building up.” [2]
  • The book “The Heart of the Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman is helpful in providing practical ways for your disciples to express their love for one another.
  • Individual attention.  Have each of your disciples get together one-on-one and for the purpose of listening to each other’s life stories.

[1] Kierkegaard, Soren. “Works of Love”, (New York: Harper Perennial, 1962), 29.

[2] Kierkegaard, Soren. “Works of Love”, (New York: Harper Perennial, 1962), 204.

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