The Loneliness of Shame

Shame has been defined as the fear of disconnection. Is there something about me that if other people knew I would not be able to be connected to them?[1] Shame is an obstacle to making followers of Jesus, because at its core disciple-making is a friendship so anything that obstructs a relational connection between a discipler and his disciple inhibits the transforming power of love.

Some shame is private that no one knows about but me, while my public shame everyone knows about. Although shame is a powerful dark emotion we all experience, it is a topic rarely addressed in Christianity. Unfortunately for some, even their Christian experience has reinforced their sense of shame driving them away from Christianity and towards those who accept them.

Love, contrary to shame, pursues. Your first step with a disciple is to pursue him. Pursuit is the shame buster. Just as Jesus chose his 12 disciples and Paul chose Timothy, it is important for you to take the initiative to pursue your disciple. This initial engagement is key because it establishes the tenor of your relationship and sets a trajectory for discipling relationships for generations to come.  On a side note, it is interesting that when people came to Jesus and asked to follow him he turned them away (Matt 8:19-22; Luke 9:57-62).

The good news of the kingdom is that the Father pursued man and adopted him into the family of God.  As I pursue a disciple I am demonstrating to him and the world the pursuing love of God in the cross of Jesus.

Recently I was at a gathering where several disciples shared their stories.  A recurring theme was the life change as a result of being loved by their discipler.  Not only will your disciple never forget being pursued by you, it will serve as a point of reference for the rest of his life.  Because he has experienced the love of being pursued, he will also pursue others.


[1] Brown, Brene (2010, The Power of Vulnerability, Retrieved September 14, 2012, from

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