Three Steps Forward Two Steps Back #4: Understanding Disciple Growth Patterns

Love is never satisfied with status quo in the life of another.  Love inspires a discipler to “always hope, always trust, and to always persevere” (1 Corinthians 13) for the life of his disciple even when his behavior and attitude are to the contrary. Faith empowers love to look beyond the disciple’s backward slide to see who and what he can become through the power of the cross and resurrection of Jesus and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit living in him.

The disciple growth pattern goes something like this:  (1) there is an initial growth spurt, which encourages the disciple and gives him hope.  (2) But old scripting, which is often tied to his fears, draws him back.  (3) Disappointment moves in at this point, which feeds his fear, (4) and he reverts to his familiar coping devices.  Just as Jesus dealt with the fears of his disciples, so it is impossible to make a follower of Jesus without him facing his fears.

Making a disciple is a long process so these growth patterns are best understood in terms of months and years.  Old scripting from childhood is crafty.  It may lay dormant for months, which lures the disciple into over confidence so that he lets his guard down.  As a disciple maker not only should you not be surprised at the reoccurrence of these scripts but you should be on the lookout for them.

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