It is natural in a western culture to acquire a franchise mentality towards making disciples of Jesus. It is an approach that works well to expand Starbucks or McDonalds because standardization guarantees a consistent product and easy replication, but it does not transfer over to kingdom growth.
A franchise has stringent procedures to follow with little consideration for the employee. Everyone must fit into the model, no matter his or her gifting, to insure the uniformity between the Starbucks in Salina, Kansas with the one in Frankfurt, Germany. (You will not find a Starbucks barista using her ingenuity to create a new drink for a customer.) There is even a uniformity of appearance that cloaks the personality, talent, ethnicity, gender, and age of the employee. We are all familiar with the Starbucks black hat and green apron but not with the people inside those uniforms.
In contrast, disciples of Jesus are best made in a family approach because they are the children of God and each child has a distinct relationship with the heavenly Father. The psalmist writes of this intimacy between Father and child in Psalm 139:13-15:
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well;
my frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Since God is creatively involved in the uniqueness of each of His children it would seem advantageous for me to be intentional in discovering the beauty of the distinctiveness of my disciple. Most of us have felt the pressure from others to be someone we are not or to do something we were not gifted to do. (In my own experience this feeling comes very close to that of rejection.) One way to love and empower your disciple is to intently listen to him to uncover the artwork of God in his inner man.
Hi, Lewie, thanks for your encouraging thoughts again. I can relate to your last paragraph. I think of Romans 12:2 where it talks about not being squeezed into the world’s mold, or sadly, in some instances, as you say, how many times do we as Christians try to squeeze other brothers and sisters into our own mold. I’ve felt that before, and sometimes it can be difficult when you try to shake loose of the mold others are trying to cast you in. Obviously, we can learn a lot from the lives of others, but we also need to be careful that we don’t try to be like others in “every” way since all of us are still being molded and shaped into the image of Christ as well. It seems that relationships are blessed when we’re learning from each other and valuing each other’s insights according to our gifting and life experience . . . Iron sharpening iron . . . . Thanks again.