Hot messes seem fashionable these days, but I say unapologetically and without arrogance that I am not a hot mess. I have been a hot mess in the past (when it wasn’t so fashionable), but I’m not one now. I’ve been redeemed and delivered from the scorching cost of striving to be someone to everyone. I don’t apologize for my churchy words: redeemed and delivered, they are sacred to me because they came at a great price.
I’m not perfect by any means, but I am more stable and grounded in my faith than ever before. It wasn’t easy, but I had to give up a lot of lies and do a lot of unlearning to get where I am. It actually pains me when I see someone struggling with the same deception that God surgically removed from me. I feel compelled to share the truth that Jesus reveals to me, a truth that actually does set you free. I’ve also been built and shaped by the Holy Spirit to reach out to others in ways that say, “I see you, and so does God.”
I know this because God saw me and sent others to let me know that He did. My faith journey began as a child who first saw Jesus in a Catholic church, but it wasn’t until I was an adult that I went from being a believer to a disciple. Another churchy word, I know, but it is the delineating difference between a nominal faith and a faith that is committed to being a lifelong follower and apprentice of Jesus – someone who is serious about hearing and responding to God’s will.
In Greek the word disciple means “learner.” Most people, however, are believers who attend church, but don’t want to be spiritually challenged. They want Jesus to take care of them, but don’t want to exchange their old way of life. Disciples aim to become fully Christ-like. The words, actions, and motives of Jesus progressively become part of their heart and life as they grow their faith.
The way a disciple grows is like a railroad track. The two parallel rails are spaced equally apart; one rail represents knowing God, and the other, knowing ourselves. The horizontal ties that keep the tracks aligned and connected is the Holy Spirit. It’s gravely important for a train to lock into both steel rails in order to move forward, and if ties are missing, it adversely affects the stability and smoothness of the ride. Unison is what makes it work well.
When I was a hot mess it was during a time that I was growing in my knowledge of God, but I wasn’t growing in knowledge of myself. This created friction between knowing what I was supposed to do (because the Bible told me so), but not being able to do it. My emotions were just too big to handle. The stress of everyday life could throw me off-kilter and my children were usually the reluctant recipients of a mom who didn’t resemble Christ at all!
The struggle for self-mastery became the biggest hindrance to becoming a radiant reflection of Christ, which was what I truly desired. Instead my bossy, self-righteous, steam-rolling, hot mess self, sprayed emotional shrapnel all over the place. I knew better, but I needed more know-how! My prayers for help to manage my emotions turned into prayers that told God that prayer wasn’t enough; I needed skills! Unoffended by my impertinence, my gracious God did just that.
I’m certified in many assessments and have taken many trainings, all of which have been incredibly valuable, but having skills and self-knowledge alone doesn’t make me a disciple. I also need to know God intimately by having an abiding relationship with Him and knowing His Word.
When you ride both rails of knowing God and knowing yourself, and then combine this with the willingness to share His truth in a relational way with others, then you have become a disciple-maker. Disciple-makers are consistent in their love for God. They have a desire to chase Him for the sake of chasing Him and then delight in sharing that adventure with someone else who is interested in chasing him too. Jesus calls all believers to be disciple-makers when he says in Matthew 28:19, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
One great sadness I carry is that I never had a mentor formally come alongside me in my faith journey. It wasn’t because I hadn’t asked for or searched for one, it just never happened. I was fortunate however, to have wonderful Christian peers and organizations dedicated to building me up in Christ, for which I am profoundly grateful. If I’m honest though, not having a mentor left a small hole in my heart and a little chip on my shoulder that eventually made me want to become the person I longed for; and so I have, and it is so fulfilling!
Disciple-making is different than leading someone to Christ, or teaching someone a Scriptural truth; it’s equipping, training, and investing in new believers so that they, in turn, can invest in someone else. You are a disciple if you learn what Jesus said and live out what Jesus did. You are a disciple-maker when you help someone else do that too.
Does this resemble your heart in any way? If so, find someone to pour into. Age does not qualify (or disqualify) you for this, just having something to pour out does. Of course, that requires that you have something to pour out.
Both disciples and disciple-makers need to be filled, whether that’s truth gleaned from spiritual disciplines or experiencing God in life circumstances. They are intimately connected to God and attend to their own self-leadership with interest and excitement. They are hungry for God and suffer to know His will.
However, disciple-makers carry an extra responsibility for what they pour out, so it’s critical that they fill up on truth and not junk. They are also called to be moral and spiritual leaders-challenging, encouraging, and influencing others by example. This isn’t something to shy away from though, it’s an opportunity to lean into it and watch God work through you. It’s a place of honor that always gives God the glory.
I’m calling all disciple-makers to be a part of that because I believe it’s time for revival in the hearts of believers. It’s time to rise up and transform their complacency, confusion, or errant beliefs into inspiration, clarity, and truth. If that’s you, hitch your spiritual train to the rails that God sets before you and holler, “All aboard!” I call to you from the hole that still gapes in my spiritual heart…. Be the person you had, or would have wanted to have in your spiritual journey.
Now, more than ever, it’s time to go and make disciples…(Matthew 28:19)
– Disciple-Maker: As you mentor, pastor, lead, or coach, you must fill up before pouring out; how well are you doing that? What grade would you give your self-mastery efforts, and how balanced is your knowledge of yourself and God?
WITNESS & ACTION
Disciple-makers, take initiative and recognize the believers that God has put in your life to serve. Schedule a time to get coffee and get to know them. Ask how you can help their walk with God. Sometimes God uses you for a season, and sometimes for the long run. Be willing to let God work through you…and then behold!
7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8)