Discipling with Purpose

by Dani Maddox

Previously, I discussed the three things children need to pursue purpose in their lives—true identity from the Father, a perfect example from Jesus Christ, and help from the Holy Spirit. All believers need these in order to pursue all God has for us. For more detail, please go back and read Part 1.

All of these aspects are vital in our parenting, but they also come into play when we first come to Jesus. Jesus told his disciples to, “let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it” (Mark 10:14b-15).

Being “like a child” does not mean that we act childish, but that we are humbled before God as we receive a new identity as a child of God, we acknowledge the perfect life of Jesus Christ to be our example, and we receive the Holy Spirit and allow Him to convict our hearts and guide us into truth.

As believers, we are also called to be the body of Christ for the world. Are we calling out people’s true identity as sons and daughters of the King? Are we encouraging others and affirming their God-given gifts? Are we modeling a life that is humble and submitted to Christ, our perfect example? Are we imitating Christ in love and servanthood (not putting up masks and pretending to be perfect)? Lastly, are we willing to disciple others in the ways of truth? Do we merely point the way or are we also submitting to others by investing our time and energy and walking alongside them as they reach maturity?

If you answered yes to most of these questions, great! It’s probably been a long journey to get to a place of being able to pour out to others. Continue to pursue God relentlessly and surround yourself with people who will encourage you in your purpose and identity. If you couldn’t genuinely answer yes to these questions, don’t worry. You’re in good company.

I understand that many of us are not at the place of being able to effectively pour out into the lives of others. If this is the case, please do not try to force yourself to give out of a place of emptiness. You cannot give that which you have not first received.

Perhaps it’s time that you receive from others. Find safe people who will accept you right where you are. Build relationships in which you have the freedom to be completely open and vulnerable. Confess your sins, grieve past losses, share your hurts, receive encouragement, and pray with one another.

Seek out a mentor, someone who has walked before you and has experienced following Christ. “We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised” (Hebrews 6:9). Allow godly discipleship in your life. Learn personal disciplines and see what biblical truths look like when applied practically.

Lastly, and most importantly, pursue God with all you have. He is your life source. “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Before you try to please Him with good works (bearing fruit), first develop an intimate relationship with Him (check your vine connection!). Read the Word, pray earnestly, set aside quiet time for listening to His voice.

Imagine yourself as a cup: You need to be poured into before you can pour out to others. If you don’t allow God to fill you up, you will be left dry, tired, and resentful.

God desires to be your source. He loves you like no one else can. Turn to Him before anyone or anything else. Then remember that He also points us to other people to fulfill specific roles. We are the body of Christ. Allow Him to use you in the lives of others and allow others to speak into your life.

Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:36-40).

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