Walking with my beagle, Texas, has become a time of spiritual schooling for me. God has reminded me to enjoy my walk with Him here on earth, and that there will be times He will have to carry me.
God has also used Texas to teach me some other dogma:
Lesson 3 – Learning is an ongoing process!
When Texas was a puppy (he is now 4), he acted like a puppy, much to my chagrin! Even though I had wanted a dog for many years, after the first few weeks of having him, I was more than ready to give him away. Cleaning up accident after accident was not fun. Frustration abounded because he wasn`t grasping that my kitchen floor was not to be his potty. Then, I realized he wasn’t doing it to spite me; he was just doing it because he was a baby and needed to learn. In order for him to learn, he needed a teacher.
Discipleship has become a lost art in our churches today.
What is Discipleship?
Discipleship is developing someone in the character and actions of Jesus, and equipping them to develop others. Simply put, it is investing in others (I Thessalonians 2:11-12, I Thessalonians 5:12-14, I Thessalonians 1:6).
The problem is, we are eager to bring others to salvation, but then we leave them to make their own way. Later on, we are shocked if they get into trouble or fall away. The tragic result is that “The Way” has a high rate of casualties! Why? It is because of the lack of teachers or mentors.
Texas will never ascertain how to use the potty outside or how to stop chewing socks if someone doesn’t teach him. My children did not come out of the womb speaking perfect grammar and walking. They had to learn from someone who already knew how!
Jesus could have just preached to the masses all the time. He could have continued to preach to the thousands and built a huge church of followers. It certainly would have been easier. Instead, however, He laid down an example of investing in the lives of others when he prayerfully chose twelve men to pour His life into in a personal day-to-day way!
Did they always understand what He taught? No. Did Jesus ever become frustrated with them? Maybe.
However, He never gave up and it was through those twelve that the Gospel was eventually spread throughout the whole world!
Today, we look for the masses and have forgotten the importance of a principle I call “spiritual rippling!”
What is “spiritual rippling?”
You invest in a person or people, equipping them to go on and invest in two or three other people. Then, your two or three become six, and then that six can soon become 12, then 24, and so on, as the discipleship ripple spreads! It is similar to throwing a rock in a still pond. That one little rock can cause ripple after ripple after ripple! I may never know, this side of heaven, how my simple act of investing in the life of even one person may ripple through to the lives of countless others.
When Jesus gave the Great Commission, He didn’t expect Steph Robbins to do it alone (Matt 28:18-20)! That’s why He told us to make disciples. It is the only way the Gospel ripple will expand throughout the whole world!
Discipleship should occur throughout our lives.
Timothy had Paul. David had Samuel. Mary had Elizabeth.
Someone once told me, “You should always have a Paul and a Timothy in your life.” In other words, I should be a mentor as well as have a mentor. Discipleship is not to be only in certain areas of our lives, but in all parts of our lives. We should always have a teachable spirit no matter how successful or advanced we may be. The moment you stop learning, you stop growing.
Those who teach by their doctrine must teach by their life, or else they pull down with one hand what they build up with the other. –Matthew Henry
As mentors, we need to be aware of the responsibility to safeguard that we are living out what we are teaching. We also must be diligent about teaching only what the Word says; not our opinions or the opinions of others. We must stand on the truth of God’s Word, even when it is not well received.
“Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them because if you do, you will save yourself and your hearers.” I Tim 4:15
“You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine.” II Tim 2:1
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” II Tim 2:15
Through my dog, God has reminded me that learning is an ongoing process and that investing in others will always bring a good return.