I read a fascinating book recently about management and performing well at your job called First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently by Marcus Buckingham.  It is written from a business perspective and is about managing people and helping them realize their full potential as employees.

If you are employed at all, it is worth reading from cover to cover, but he laid down a quote on the last page that, I feel, has implications for those of us who disciple students.  He said this,

“Don’t try to put in what was left out.  Try to draw out what was left in” (pg. 245).

So often, discipleship becomes about cramming in bits of information to students to help them know how to “be good” and “follow the rules” (don’t drink, don’t party, don’t watch rated R movies, etc.), but I have been in ministry long enough to see this form of discipleship fail.

I wonder if, instead of focusing students on what they should not do, we should draw them to their potential in the Spirit of Christ inside them. Some thoughts:

  1. Jesus did it. With those he discipled, he said very little about “following the rules,” in fact, many times he actually told them to break them.  He sent them out in pairs pronouncing the kingdom, he called him to walk on the water, he spoke at length about the Spirit who would give them power when he left.  He enabled them to focus, not on what they were doing wrong, but on what they could do so right.
  2. Those times when students don’t “follow the rules” were died for.  Our goal is not to try to turn bad people into good people, it is to try to help turn bad people into saved people.
  3. Any behavior change will likely be intrinsic. A heart in love with Jesus is the best help for students to follow the rules I have ever seen.  If people are going to change, it has got to come from the inside (a heart which has been redeemed).  Words of Paul ring a bell here, “Let us live up to what we have already attained” (Philippians 3:16).
Perhaps, our goal in discipleship should be to help people realize that a follower of Christ is less pushed by following rules and more pulled into the salvation they have already attained.
Thoughts?

I recently read Rob Bell’s, Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived, a book which, before it was released had Christian leaders rejoicing at the demise of a preacher who was preaching heresy (which I think is ridiculous; not only because I can point to some of their teachings and call them heresy, but because, why is it okay to rejoice in anyone’s demise, ever?).

Now to the book. . .

Rob Bell, in this book, does what Rob Bell does well; namely, he asks questions (in this case about God, heaven, hell, the afterlife, etc.).  He does not claim any of his theories to be absolute truth or that he owns the topic of God.  Rather, he asks questions for people to wrestle with in community because as he says in the introduction, “I believe the discussion itself is divine.”

A few thoughts to spark questions (in Rob Bell’s words) . . .

  1. “Eternal life doesn’t start when we die; it starts now.  It’s not about a life that begins at death; it’s about experiencing the kind of life now that can endure and survive even death” (Pg. 58).
  2. “There is hell now, and there is hell later, and Jesus teaches us to take both seriously” (Pg. 78).
  3. “To be clear an untold number of serious disciples of Jesus across hundreds of years have assumed, affirmed, and trusted that no one can resist God’s pursuit forever, because God’s love will eventually melt even the hardest of hearts”  (Pg. 108).
  4. “Whatever objections a person might have to this story, and there are many, one has to admit that it is fitting, proper, and Christian to long for it” (Pg.111).
  5. “While we may get other opportunities, we won’t get the one in front of us again.  That specific moment will pass and we will not see it again.  It comes, it’s here, it goes, and then it’s gone.  Jesus reminds us in a number of ways that it is vitally important we take our choices here and now as seriously as we possibly can because they matter more than we can begin to imagine.  Whatever you’ve been told about the end – the end of your life, the end of time, the end of the world- Jesus passionately urges us to live like the end is here, now, today” (Pg. 197).