I must confess, I do love discipling men; sitting in a room with 12 men, listening to their stories, finding out they haven’t read their Bibles in quite some time. Then there is the challenge of trying to discover the trigger that will make them want to change, to grow into Christ and to become like true men of God. This is extremely satisfying. The key to discipleship is helping the individual to change from the inside out, not the outside in.
HOW DOES A CHRISTIAN GROW?
Learning Bible study skills, memorizing scriptures, and daily Bible reading, are all things that are important to the growth of a Christian, but they aren’t the most important. More vital is an attitude, a heart of humility. Unless that grows and matures within the person, the other things will not be productive and will probably disappear. But to become a discipler, one has to first learn what it means for to be humble.
MY CUPBEARER EXPERIENCE
I was reminded this week about Nehemiah, the cupbearer of King Artaxerxes. The cupbearer was the guy who got to taste the wine before the King, making sure it wasn’t poison. I’m sure not too many people were answering that position in the help wanted ads. I got to be a “cupbearer” of sorts myself. My freshman year of college I worked for Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia. Every Sunday I opened up the church, turned on the heat, and then set up the rooms. My most important job (as “cupbearer”) was to fill Pastor James Montgomery Boice’s water glass, just in case his throat got dry during the sermon. As I look back at that time, I realize that job was just one step in God’s plan to teach me humility. No job is too small or insignificant within the plan of God.
John Calvin calls humility the “sovereign virtue…..the mother and root of all virtue”. Jonathan Edwards agrees, calling humility the “most essential thing in true religion.” It is true that without the interior foundation of humility, the spiritual house will collapse. Humility is born out of the recognition of a powerful and gracious God and being overwhelmed by His goodness. Jesus said in Matthew 18:4 says, “Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.”
REAL HUMILITY DOES NOT EXPECT ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
Humility should come naturally, not as a work of the flesh in order to prove something to someone, but as a reflective act, as when a child throws their arms around you and says: “I love you Daddy or Mommy”. Real humility does not expect reward or acknowledgement. These “hugs” come when we humble ourselves and put aside our own thoughts of what a Christian should be.
I get really excited when my 12 men are learning the books of the Bible (we’re not quite there yet, but we’re heading there). I am thrilled when they tell me their time with God has increased in the past few months, plus they are finding more time to read their Bibles. But when they look me in the eye and tell me they want to know Jesus better, because they realize how inadequate they are without Him, that’s when I have to step back and simply say “Thank you Jesus. It’s all because of You”. James says, “Humble yourself before the Lord, and He will lift you up.” (James 4:10) So, remember, whether your job is to fill a pastor’s water glass each week or to help men to know Jesus in a much deeper way, they are all acts of service when they are done with a humble heart.