In the InterVarsity world, a tool called the “Discipleship Cycle” is currently all the rage. My friend and staff partner Kaylyn has coined the term “Discycleship.” Whatever we call it, it’s a great tool for growth and I’ve been learning a lot about my life and ministry through it. The general idea is that you Hear the Word from God through the Bible, prayer, or others. Then you Respond Actively to what you’ve heard in some concrete way. And finally, you Debrief and Interpret how the active response went, and hopefully hear a new word that launches you into a new iteration of the cycle, possibly even Expanding the Influence. This is a simple model of how God disciples His people. (If you don’t believe me, read through the gospels and look at how Jesus teaches his disciples. Take the sending of the 72 in Luke 10 for example.)
For much of my life, I’ve struggled with a dark, depressive tendency. Historically, when something bad or annoying happens, I turn inward to a dark, angry, brooding, ruminating place. I become paralyzed, and even a negative presence to those around me. Serving at a children’s day camp during the Baltimore Summer Urban Project in 2008 was extremely difficult because the kids had so many issues and the camp was under-resourced. I became tired and angry, internally blaming others and isolating myself from the team.
In the last year, I’ve done a lot of prayer and work around this tendency. To my surprise and delight, God has done significant work in my heart. When our team missed the train home overseas this past summer, I continued to function as a leader of the team rather than going to my usual dark place. But as I look forward to more ministry and leadership, I want more than just not being paralyzed by hard situations. The Discipleship Cycle reveals that it’s often those very moments of dissonance or difficulty in our lives that turn out to be “God moments” – moments where God speaks to us, challenges us and launches us into action. The hard things in our lives often turn out to be blessings through which God disciples us. What was God trying to teach us when we missed that train? My prayer in this coming year is that God would help me listen for His voice in those moments and respond to how He is trying to disciple my students or me. I want to more and more see every moment as a potential opportunity for growth.
Is there a way that you’ve seen God disciple you this way recently? Is there a step in the Discipleship Cycle upon which you’d like to improve?