4 Building Blocks for Successful Discipleship-part 3-Bearing the Burdens

This installment in the Invest series is the third building block for successful discipleship- bearing the burdens. The first installment was simply titled Invest , the second was Invest-part 2, the third was 4 Building Blocks to Successful Discipleship-part 1-Be an Example, and the fourth was part 2-Build the Relationship.

I’m definitely not an expert on the subject, I don’t have it all figured out, and I have so much to learn.  The tips and tools I’m sharing in this bible study series on biblical discipleship have been born out of a lot of mistakes and failures, and a few successes.

Everything is a learning experience if you let it be.  Discipleship thus far has been a blessing, even when it was heartbreaking and hard.

~Galatians 6:2~ Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Bear means to carry, to take up, to lift off of someone.  A burden is heaviness, weight, trouble, and a load.  Some examples of things that commonly weigh women down are:

  • Finances
  • Relationships
  • Emotions
  • Work/school/sports
  • Sin

So far the blog post that has gotten the most comments on is From Worry to Worship~ Shifting your focus from the “What ifs” to “What is”.  A lot of women carry that burden of worry on their shoulders and need the help of a sober minded woman to learn how to turn that worry into worship.  

Bearing the burdens in discipleship is:

CounselingDiscipleship is a lot of counseling. Yes, you are teaching them the word of God, and training them how to walk with God, but you are also walking beside them as they go through life.

The two main things to remember when counseling:

  • Listen more than you speak- Proverbs 18:13~ He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.  Don’t try to give counsel before hearing what is exactly going on in their lives.  Let them share what’s on their heart.  Ask questions to get to what the real burden is.  That is one way you’re going to lift that off of them.

~Proverbs 17:28~ Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.

There’s a time to give advice, and there’s a time to just listen.

Think of the example of Job’s friends when he lost everything.  They sat silent and mourned with him for the first seven days (Job 2:11-13).  Then Job finally speaks of his misery and in chapter 4:2, Eliphaz says “who can withhold himself from speaking?” and begins to let Job know why he thinks Job’s in that predicament.

A lot of what these friends said to him was truth, but not true of Job’s situation, nor was it necessary or helpful.  They didn’t have the knowledge that Satan was tempting Job to blaspheme God.  We don’t have full knowledge of everything going on in another woman’s life either, so run it through that filter- is it kind, helpful or necessary?

  • Leave them with wise counsel- They really don’t need our opinion, or advice, they need help bearing those burdens with counsel from the word of God. Proverbs 19:21~ There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand.

This is where being familiar with your bible is essential. You need to know the scriptures that address the specific burden they have.

You may feel ill-equipped to do this.  I’m going to help get tools in your hand to be able to be more confident in this area, by providing a how to study the bible series in the future.  But you have to remember that in that position of feeling inadequate to minister to someone else, is exactly where God wants you.

Rely on the Holy Spirit’s leading. He knows exactly what they need to hear, so if you are in tune with the Spirit and following his direction, you’ll be giving wise counsel.  Before every discipleship session or before you answer any text or phone call, pray that the Spirit would give you direction.

If it’s a situation that’s pretty serious and over your head, don’t be ashamed to tell them that.  Direct them to your trusted counselor or someone you know has a testimony of godliness and wisdom that could help.  We don’t have all the answers, but God’s word does and he has placed skilled counselors within the body for this exact reason.

So prayerfully, and with the Spirit’s leading, share with them wise counsel from the word or help them get the help they need.  The next key component to bearing burdens is to have:

Compassion

  • Love them like Jesus- My favorite example of having compassion is the story Jesus tells in Luke 10:25-37, about the good Samaritan. He had compassion on him, dressed his wounds, gave him his ride, took care of him, and provided for his financial need to get the recuperation he needed.

To fulfill the law of Christ is to love your neighbor as yourself, like the good Samaritan did. Sometimes we need to help bear their burdens physically by providing material needs to help lift their financial burden a little.  Maybe we need to babysit for them to give them a little break.  Or go to the funeral when their loved one dies.  Organize meals for them when they need it.

~1Peter 3:8~ Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous.     

  • Lead them to the Lord-  Matthew 11:28-30- Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.  Some people are carrying around a burden of guilt, shame, and sin, and need to be brought to the Lord for salvation.

Sharing the good news of the gospel lifts those burdens. That’s loving them, and having compassion and care for their soul.

Casting those cares on Christ

  • Lift them to the Lord- Pray for them! Jesus is really the one who bears all of our burdens.  We can’t hang on to them, we have to lift them off of our disciple or friend, and lift them right up to Jesus.

Lift them up to the throne of grace so they can obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. You may be the only one praying for them.

  • Lead them to the throne- In the last point you are praying, in this one you teach them how to do it themselves. Always be setting the example for your disciple and training them how to walk through the trials of life with the Lord.Teach them how to cast their cares on Christ, so they will eventually go straight to him to bear their burdens instead of to you.

When we bear the burdens in discipleship by counseling, with compassion, and casting the cares on Christ, we minister in a way that changes lives. When we minister like Jesus did, we can know the blessing of fruit that remains.

~Romans 15:1~ We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.

A Devoted Disciple

The Demeanor of a Devoted Disciple of Christ

This picture is of precious souls who had never heard of the name of Jesus. Awestruck by the fact that while their own people shunned them as outcasts, a white woman from America left her comfort, and children behind, to come and speak to them about this God-man who loved them, died for them, and wanted a relationship with them. They didn’t receive Christ as Lord and Savior that day, but the seeds of the gospel were planted.

This trip was a life-changer for me.  My husband had been several times, but this was the first time I got to go with him, and a team from our church. It was an unforgettable adventure with Jesus.

It was in India that the Lord taught me what it means to be a devoted disciple of Christ.

Not just in the sacrifice to go, or the world vision he gave, or the broken heart for those who still haven’t heard the glorious gospel, or the evangelizing and teaching. All those things certainly do show that we are devoted to the Lord, and learning and growing as his disciples.  But the Lord really laid two things on my heart that makes the difference between a devoted disciple and one who is just going through the motions.

Surrounded by women in the slums of Mumbai, I witnessed firsthand what devoted disciples look like. Women who are destitute by the world’s standards but are so rich in Christ. Women who had truly forsaken all to follow him.

With light in their eyes, a smile on their lips, and a joy that was simply contagious, they gathered with eager anticipation to hear the word of the Lord. Sitting on the dirty floor of the slum house, smaller than my bedroom, these women listened intently via an interpreter to what the Lord gave me to teach them.  Even though I went to India to invest truth in them, these women taught me so much about the heart we all should have as we learn from and live for Christ.

Before we get into the heart of the devoted disciple, we should answer the question- What is a disciple?  A learner and student of Christ.  Someone who sits at the feet of Jesus and adheres to his teachings.

Jesus is our Master, our Teacher, instructing us how to treat others, how to pray, how to have eternal life, and how to receive rewards in heaven, among other things.  Every time we open his word to learn from him we should pray to have the demeanor of a devoted disciple.  Our sisters in Christ showed me what that looked like.

  • A Devoted Disciple is Hungry:  Some of the women I taught there didn’t own a bible, or couldn’t read, so anytime they got to hear the word of God it was a treat to them. They were so eager to listen and soaked up every word. For some of them, it was dire circumstances of life that led them there. Their spiritual hunger reminds me of two passages: 1Samuel 3:19~ And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground.  And Proverbs 27:7~ The full soul loatheth an honeycomb; but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I don’t know your circumstances, but I’d be willing to bet that you have a full belly, a full schedule, a full life…  If you’re anything like me, I’m sure you have a full bookshelf as well. In my house we have several bibles, I have it on my phone and computer, so I have unlimited access to the word of God at any given moment. I read and study it regularly and I get so full of the word that I think this dulls my sense of hunger for it. It begins to lose it’s luster, and my devotion to Christ wanes.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 To be honest, I’m not sure when I last sensed a deep spiritual hunger in my soul. That may disqualify me as a “good pastor’s wife”, but so be it. I do want that hunger back that I had as a new believer, when everything was fresh and new. And I want to be a devoted disciple. I know the hunger and thirst for God will come through draining seasons of drought, or from wandering in the wilderness like it did for the children of Israel.(Psalm 107:4-6).                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This is what my flesh fights. The uncomfortable, unsettling, and unknown.  I have to pray that God will do whatever it takes to give me that hunger and mold be into a disciple who is completely and totally devoted to him.

~Matthew 5:6~ Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

  • A Devoted Disciple is Humble:  Humility was the other thing that marked these disciples in India. They were teachable women who recognized their desperate need for the things being taught.  So often women are defensive when they’re taught about biblical womanhood and godly character.  They get offended at every little thing, are prideful and obstinate, not willing to change their mind or life to line up with God’s word. They get stuck in sin patterns because they won’t simply humble themselves before God and be teachable.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         To be a devoted disciple of Christ we must humble ourselves, recognizing that he is the Teacher and we are the student, that our hearts are deceitful and wicked, and that left to our own devices we would be a miserable hot mess!  We don’t know it all, and we don’t have it all together, we need his instruction and direction.

~Isaiah 57:15~ For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. 

Our sisters in India had this hungry and humble demeanor because they were so immensely grateful for their salvation. They came from the lowest caste, where they were considered worthless and treated no better than dogs.  But Jesus didn’t see them that way.  He chose them, accepted them, forgave them, and regenerated them. He placed value on them, and adopted them into the family of God.  They went from rags to royalty by their faith in Christ.

Because of all he had done for them, they were deeply in love with Jesus. I pray I can love him like that and be a hungry and humble devoted disciple of Christ daily. Oh that he would restore a right spirit, return the joy of salvation, and revive the hearts of all those who have grown complacent.

~Psalm25:4-5~ Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths.  Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.

Daily His Disciple

 

A life lived on purpose

All for God’s glory

Sowing and reaping

Growing and teaching 

Living in victory

Leading in humility

Loving in entirety

 With a heart like His

That no matter the task

Says not my will but thine

Whenever He asks