In my initial post regarding discipling, I briefly discussed certain peculiar times in the lives of young brothers and in relationship with them called times of pressing!
When these seasons of pressing occur, they will produce activity in either one of two directions.
One way of pressing, is pressing “in”, deeper into relationship, hungry to learn, study, pray and grow. This type of pressing is a time of great joy and is pretty easy to handle…………………as an equipper, you make yourself AVAILABLE. Time, knowledge, wisdom, resources, etc…… all that you have is at the disposal of a young brother who is pressing in. A season like this is an extremely productive time for both equipper and disciple and wise brothers will be sure to deepen and strengthen the relationship as much as possible during these seasons.
The other way, which appears to be negative, is when a brother requires some space, hides himself and cuts contact with you. Here is a comment from my initial post:
The pressing may be of a seemingly negative nature where certain truth presented causes a young brother to struggle internally by requiring a release of certain beliefs, conduct and/or identity concepts. I am not speaking of your average, run of the mill issues here. I am referring to things that strike at the core of their being and determine whether or not Christ will truly be Lord of their existence!
Depending on the matter at hand, things can get a bit prickly. A brother may press by hurling accusations, questioning even the very basics of faith and, ultimately, running away from relationship and hiding for a while. Obviously, handling this type of scenario with a young brother requires a certain approach. While it may appear to be negative, this type of pressing has its place, is actually required in the discipleship process and is normally what it takes to get to the root of some things.
It is always a perplexing matter when a young brother takes this route and is even more tense should he take it to the extreme and just seemingly walk away from relationship.
Listen, in NO way, do I purport to know everything there is to know about a discipling relationship. Though I had been “in ministry” for most of my life, I didn’t really start discipling brothers until 4 years ago. Believe me, if you ask the brothers with whom I have had these intimate, Christ-centered relationships, they will tell you that it has been a continual work in progress and I have probably learned more than they have! It is understood between both parties from the outset, if any benefit comes from relating to one another on a discipleship basis, it is purely a result of Christ’s grace that has found weakness in me through which it can show itself strong. But, in order to encourage other brothers to begin to disciple or aid them in their existing relationships, I am willing to share what I have learned and experienced.
In doing so, I am not attempting to lay out a formula, a certain number of steps or even techniques in a “how to” disciple strategy. I can only offer points of consideration. There are so many differing variables in each relationship and, after all, we are handling and dealing with people……………not a product. What is in play is, first and foremost, matters of the heart and must be given proper respect and sacredness. When I first began to understand that one day I will be held accountable for the manner in which I handle His children, despite the ministry setting, it was a game changer for me. I am not discipling these brothers to have trophies in my spiritual showcase. I am not discipling them in order to use their grace, anointings or talents for my ministry, church or purpose. I am discipling these young brothers because Father has put a love for them in my heart and I want them to KNOW Him in greater and deeper ways. If I can, in anyway, encourage and equip them to take full advantage of the access granted to them by Father, I will be happy.
So, with that in mind, permit me to offer the first consideration in dealing with a young brother that seemingly has just gone away in a time of pressing.
1. Just because a young brother has broken fellowship with me, DOES NOT mean he has broken fellowship with God. The ultimate end result in discipling a young brother is to eventually bring them to a place of maturity in Christ. During these seasons of pressing, God is dealing intensely with a young brother. So, just because he has seemingly walked away from you does not mean he has walked away from God. As equippers, we must continually humble ourselves and realize that God is able to deal with that brother in other ways outside of your care and will more than likely do so. Father will never leave nor forsake that young brother…….should he even make his bed in hell!
We must not become possessive of young disciples as if they belong to us or if the only way they will be able to step into their destiny is through relationship with us. God purchased them through the shed blood of His Son and they belong to Him. If we are given the honor of influencing them at all, we should do so in the attitude of helping them find the Way and then get out of their way. Our relationship with them is a by-product of their relationship with Father. It’s not the other way around.
2. PRAY! When a young brother presses away, it is time to STOP TRYING TO TALK TO THEM and to START TALKING TO FATHER ABOUT THEM. In other words, intercession. In reality, prayer for the young brother should be the foundation upon which any discipleship should be built. If you aren’t spending as much time and effort praying for them as you do trying to teach them bible lessons or knowledge, you’re missing the boat. The ONLY authority I have as an equipper in an individual’s life is the fact that I am sent FROM FATHER to them and they receive me!
In seasons when they do not receive me, it is time to direct any and all focus to Father, bearing the young brother on my chest in intercession before Him and asking Father to reveal His thoughts and intentions for the young brother. I am continually surprised how the Holy Spirit will communicate regarding the life, condition and circumstances regarding that young brother. It should come as no surprise because, after all, Father loves them more than I do. It is these moments where Father’s love for His son is given to you.
Through such prayer, the Spirit will lead any and all contact, outreach or direction concerning the young brother who has pressed away. This is where the obedience we are seeking to develop in the life of the disciple must be portrayed in the equipper. Sometimes you continue to pray. Fast and pray. At times, the Spirit will lead you to make a certain type of contact. Sometimes you do nothing. You release them to Father in His care. There are times when you identify and share in the struggle the young brother is experiencing. There isn’t a set pattern. Should you function as a priest towards Father for the young brother, the Spirit will lead and direct……..and the Spirit always brings life!
And, as the final consideration,
3. Appeal to and in LOVE. When Jesus came to Peter on the shore with the breakfast of fishes, there was no mistaking that Jesus had come after that brother to bring restoration. Jesus had appeared to his brothers two previous times but nothing was said to Peter then. Jesus had dealt with them as a group the first time. The second time, Jesus specifically dealt with Thomas. But, on the shore, though all the other brothers were there fishing with Peter, Jesus made this appearance specifically for Peter.
As one of my favorite passages of scripture, there are so many nuances in the exchange between Jesus and Peter found in John, chapter 21, but I will just provide a general focus here.
Imagine the guilt, condemnation and fear that Peter experienced because of his actions in betraying even knowing Jesus. Now, the brother has returned to what he previously knew (fishing) before he ever came into relationship with Jesus. Confusion racked Peter’s brain as things just didn’t work out with Jesus the way that he had imagined. Jesus was King…but not the kind that Peter had expected. He had not wanted the cross……….he had not believed the resurrection………….he totally denied even knowing Jesus…………he didn’t understand what had happened….he had pressed away!
Before his death, Jesus told Peter that his faith would be tried and he would need to be restored. So, here Jesus was. At the appropriate time. After having prayed that Peter’s faith not fail him. Peter now surrounded by his previous life and all that was familiar to him. Jesus comes to him LOVE.
Please notice, Jesus didn’t begin to put Peter in remembrance of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus didn’t craft 3 points in overcoming guilt and condemnation. Jesus didn’t lay out sound doctrine and theology. In this moment, Jesus didn’t bring forth the divine revelation of the meaning of the cross and the import of the resurrection so he would know for sure that Peter finally “got it”!
No, the topic of their conversation was LOVE and DESTINY in the context of relationships. Please read that again.
Jesus came in His Love to restore Peter by appealing to his love for Jesus, in whatever form it remained. “Do you love me?” and “Feed my sheep!” are both relational contexts. Essentially, through reinforcing the love between them, Peter would fulfill his function and destiny by loving and caring for Christ’s Body.
So, as it relates to our topic, we should approach a young brother who has pressed away in the timing that the Spirit directs. There have been times when I have seen young brothers who have pressed away in a social setting and my heart desired to try and reach them. It just was not the proper time. Silence is required. You can greet them and be gracious but it isn’t the proper time to restore. I had to walk away with things left as they were.
But, when the time is revealed by the Spirit and it comes, it is not the time to say, “I told you so!” or render chapter and verse in order to formulate a basis of agreement in order to come together. When the time is given, whether they return or you are sent after them, it is the time to show the love in your heart for them that Father has deposited and appeal to the love in their heart in relation to Father and you.
Such times are not easy. It does not come naturally……..especially for men. It destroys fleshly pride, reveals insecurities and is extremely humbling for both parties involved. However, such times are major breakthroughs of advancement in the young man pursuing his purpose and destiny. It also has quite an impact on the equipper, as well.
There are a few more considerations I could share but, perhaps, I will do that in a future post. More than likely, if the reader will truly consider the submitted considerations, greater insight and perspectives will develop beyond what is being offered here.
My prayer for this post is that it encourages those who read it to be willing to truly pay the cost to be both a disciple and one who disciples. Father continues to reveal how important and necessary it is for believers to relate to one another in His Love and Spirit. Individuals will never come to the fullness of Christ alone. It requires relationships. It is in being empowered by the Holy Spirit and accurately relating to one another that the deepest, richest blessings and potentials of God exist.
Keep your peace!