[Guest post from pastoral intern Abraham Cremeens]
God saved me early in my college career at Illinois State University. As a young college student with a newly given faith, I was young and green and clueless. I remember looking around me at more mature Christians and wanting the vibrant, fruitful relationship with Christ that they had. So I began to ask around.
I called Jim. “Hey, Jim, what is this whole Scripture memory thing I keep hearing about?” And Jim came over and showed me how to memorize Scripture. I called Jim again. “Hey, Jim, what is this whole devotional time thing about?” And Jim came over again and showed me how he spends time with God.
Soon after that I met Jeremy. He began to meet with me weekly and help me in my walk with God and also how to discuss my faith with friends on my dorm floor.
After Jeremy moved away, I met Kent, after which I met Kevin…and you see the pattern. God has been so good to me in placing men in my life, even up to this present day, who have intentionally helped me grow spiritually. And God has given me numerous opportunities to help others with the same.
The word “intentionality” is one we use a lot in SLCF. And yet it is a word that can often be found missing in the pursuit of discipleship. Most Christians agree that discipleship is part of any biblical church. Most Christians understand that we need one another for fruitful, God-glorifying spiritual growth. But in my experience intentionality often lacks in discipleship.
Intentionality is the opportunity for you to ask how you can better help someone grow to be more like Christ to God’s glory. It is thinking ahead of time about spiritual needs and ways to help those around you that you care about. It may be your children as you disciple them. It may be a younger believer in your life. It may even be a spiritual peer, someone you meet with regularly who is similar in spiritual maturity as you.
To help us be more intentional in discipleship, Kari (my wife) and I often ask three questions.*
- Where is he/she now (needs)?
- Where am I taking him/her?
- What is the next step?
Let’s say small group leader Bob sees a pattern of criticism in small group member Justin. Bob sees his opportunity of helping Justin grow in this area of his life and wants to take a step forward in helping Justin become more like Christ. Bob sits down one evening and begins writing down some thoughts.
“Where is Justin now?” Justin is regularly critical toward others and other small group members are beginning to avoid him. “Where am I taking Justin?” I’m going to walk with Justin out of criticism and into a lifestyle that builds others up. “What is my next step?” I will initiate a coffee with Justin in the next week. During that time I will lovingly bring his pattern of criticism to Justin’s attention, using Eph 4:29 to make it clear what his end goal should be. If Justin is repentant, I will encourage him toward an arrangement where I regularly interact with him when I note either a critical comment (to further challenge him) or a comment that builds someone up (to encourage him as I see progress).
That is at least one picture of what intentionality looks like in discipleship. Let’s grow in our love for one another as a church family by asking how we can specifically journey with others through spiritual growth to God’s glory.
*These questions came out of Kari's time on staff with Campus Outreach Gulf Coast.