In the world of technology, there’s a very simple (yet in reality very complex) concept called “compatibility.”
For example, there’s certain apps that work on iphones, but if you try to use them on an android…good luck…it won’t work. While most people’s geek quotient (or “G.Q.”) is not high enough to explain why this reality exists (I am one of those people), a simple way to explain it is to say the iphone app is not compatible with the android phone.
When we talk about compatibility in relationships, we are talking about a certain kind of fit between people. We all know good compatibility when we experience it. You have a certain connection with someone that you do not have with other people. It could be personality, season of life, or some other factor. Its not right or wrong, it just is what it is. When there is good compatibility between two people, they both often find themselves thinking “I would enjoy spending more time around that person.”
Read the rest of the article, Discipleship: Compatibility is a Two-Way Street on the V3 Network.
I truly enjoyed reading this article. I receive Google alerts for the topics of “discipleship” and “missional” and often times what I get notified of is very bland and frankly, the very opposite of what I’m trying to do with this site and our ministry in Peru. This particular article on the other hand showed up in my news feed when a fellow blogger and missionary to Ecuador Miguel Labrador shared it in a group we’re both in.
I found it spot on.
As I was reading it, I couldn’t help but think of things in the many “false starts” that I’ve seen when I’ve led people to Jesus who fell away. I probably have led exponentially way more people to Christ than I have truly discipled to maturity. Some of it I attribute to not having known how to properly disciple someone.
Other times, the soil isn’t good and the cares of this life choke it out (see Matthew 13:3-8, 18-23)
Sometimes a “disciple” doesn’t want to grow, but just continue to be spoon-fed. Or worse still, remain in rebellion and outright sin.
Sometimes people aren’t a good “fit” for one another. It’s not necessarily either side’s fault.
Some People Are Simply Not “Good Soil”
Over the last few years since I’ve moved to Chorrillos, I’ve begun many one-on-one life-on-life relational times with individual men that either recently came to know Jesus or who wanted to grow further and spend time with me. Since time is a commodity, there are only so many hours in a week to pour myself into several individuals, which is where ‘huddles’ come in (in short, spending time together with a handful of guys and not just one-on-one, but that’s for another post)
Time would be spent with people weekly either eating breakfast at my place, going for walks, running errands together, and any other way of overlapping our lives. In some cases, no progress was made whatsoever. One time in a team huddle with the other leaders in our ministry, I lamented how after so many months, I felt like a particular new convert was just wasting my time. That’s when the other leaders present asked me if I had prayed about whether I was supposed to disciple this particular young man.
I admitted that I truly had not. I just assumed if someone had prayed with me to change their life while in rehab, they were serious and wanted to make changes. The first few weeks were pretty fruitful, but then after that he’d forget about our appointments, and eventually sometimes would be home and literally hide from me. Like, I could see him through the crack in the door to his room from the living room, and he’d tell his mom to tell me he wasn’t there.
In the particular instance I was asking for advice about, I came to the realization that it might not have been right for me to spent my time with this young man. He had forgotten my appointments because he was backsliding anyway, and by that point outright avoiding me.
Sometimes the soil isn’t ready or it isn’t good at all for receiving the seed of the Word of God. Other times the seed goes in, but the birds of the air rob it, or the cares of this life and desire for money choke it out and it isn’t fruitful.
Some People Are Just Not a Good Match For Each Other
Other times, you’re just not the person who should spend time with that person. I’ve encountered that as well.
Discipling relationships require frequent interactions. If the follower is going to imitate the life of the leader, then the follower has to have access to the leader’s life. This means they will spend time with each other outside of the classroom, small groups, or bible studies. If there is not a significant amount of compatibility in the relationship, both people will experience relational fatigue from being around each other. After fatigue sets in, then hanging out together in organic and spontaneous ways is not likely to happen. (Emphasis mine)
This is true. I’ve taught on information, imitation, and innovation before in regards to discipleship, and that it doesn’t just come from information transfer from the discipler to the disciplee. There’s imitation — time spent together –required. For this reason you can’t disciple thousands of people through a podcast or a preaching platform one hour per week. It requires life-on-life and by necessity, human interaction both ways. Not just one-way information transfer from a pulpit out to the audience.
There are two things worth noting here: Jesus had a preference for whom he wanted to invite closer and invest to his life. We do not know what these preferences were, but those preferences were a determining factor in his method of choosing the 12. This runs counter to our notion of equality and treating everyone the same. The truth of the matter is, Jesus modeled for us the best possible way to choose people that we will invest our life into.
So, as you share the Gospel with people, and help them grow in their journey, keep in mind you might not be the best person to disciple them beyond conversion.
Add your own thoughts below.