Today's post continues a three part series titled, My Story of Being Discipled. To read yesterday's post, go here.
Characterizing the relationship Steve and I have is difficult to do because it does not fit into one single category.
My professor in a Current Evangelism and Discipleship Class often taught us that rarely do we lock into one category of relationship with someone. Instead, it is very common, as Nancy says, that our relationship with someone discipling or mentoring us will have several different elements and characteristics to it.
In their book, Connecting: The Mentoring Relationships You Need to Succeed, authors Paul Stanley and Robert Clinton outline eight different types of mentoring relationships that someone might engage in. Most of my time with Steve consists of a coach or teacher type of relationship. When we started off our relationship most of the time Steve was coaching me through the new situations I was experiencing and teaching me the skills that I wanted to learn. Through that Steve would coach me and bring out the elements of my character that I needed to have for assertiveness and conflict resolution. Even though Steve does impart a lot of wisdom to me as a teacher, he often says that he learns as much from me as I learn from him. For instance, he often learns about his own coaching and teaching as he sees in writing the things that he often only says.
The model of discipleship that definitely works best for me is when I am able to have a relationship with the other person and ask questions. As I shared earlier, the way I am discipled by Steve is highly dependent on me coming to him with situations and questions. I usually come to him with about half a page of questions. Steve is someone with great wisdom and insight, and I always want to tap into that wisdom for the situation that I am in.
As a young man and a new Christian, I have a strong desire to be a strong Christian leader, but I do not always know what that looks like. Steve has helped me by showing me what I need to do and what habits I need to possess to be a strong Christian man and leader. That is why I always take time to think through what is going on in my life and then ask Steve to help me with that. And, from what Steve tells me, he appreciates that I do that. He does not have to give as much effort to keep me accountable as other men he disciples because I put in the work on my own, and that fosters the positive relationship that we enjoy and each mutually benefit from.
Based on what I have shared thus far, I agree with Ogden when he shares that “Discipleship is fundamentally a relational process.” I know that Steve has my back. He cares for me, believes in me, and he is going to walk with me through whatever I am going through. When Steve and I get together we start our time by sharing how our month has been going and what we have been up to. In addition to that, Steve and I regularly pray together and for each other.
In a way, we are a team working together where Steve offers discipleship to me while I help him to clarify his thinking by writing his quotes and giving them back to him. Through this process, Steve provides tremendous encouragement to me as a leader. Through Steve’s encouragement, he acts out the same process that the apostle Paul follows when Ogden describes, “Paul’s parental discipling model always had the goal of encouraging people to become all they were intended to be in Christ.” I feel this type of parental encouragement in Steve’s influence on my life.
He always believes in me more than I believe in myself. He definitely has a desire to see me grow up and flourish as a Christian who has all the tools and practices necessary to be an effective Christian leader.