The idea of accountability and mentorship, or submitting yourself under the tutelage of another is foreign in America. We live in a democracy where our voice WILL be heard and our vote DOES count (LOL) and we WILL get our way and we MUST demand our freedom and independence, after all that is what our forefathers fought and died for. RIGHT???
As a Christian, I have decided that I don’t know what I need to know, so I have chosen to submit to those who know. This is called humbling yourself…reducing yourself…becoming less so you can be more. In my short journey, I have learned a few things from watching others. I want to share with you up-and-comers what NOT to do, as a leader. I hope you can laugh at some of these, but also take it to heart as well because while comical, there is much truth in these statements…
I know when I came into the church and began to get connected, people were always inviting me to go out to eat. As a new believer, my pockets were void of deniro. I wouldn’t be able to fellowship at times because I didn’t have the cash to go eat where they were eating. I had dollar menu bucks and their tastes and preferences were much more refined and pricy. Be mindful of those around you. Build one on one relationships and recognize where someone is financially. And remember, they haven’t gotten the Kingdom principle of tithing down yet. Teach them!
I will never forget the “shopping trips” that I was talked into. I despise shopping and I did not dress inappropriately, I just didn’t dress like the other ladies at our church. I don’t accessorize. I don’t own jewelry or a purse. Unless your disciple is showing more skin than clothing, give her some grace. And PLEASE don’t use her as an excuse to go on your own shopping excursion! (YES, this happened to me!) You don’t have to have keen spiritual discernment to recognize that someone is broke or they are not enjoying watching you try on clothes that neither of you should be buying.
A new believer (and a mature believer) cannot afford to drink coffee at a coffee shop almost every day. The “meet me for coffee” line is just as good when you are making coffee in YOUR coffee pot (Mr. Coffee is fine…he needs some love too) at YOUR house in YOUR dingy old cups. It’s much more personable.
4. Cleanliness is next to godliness, but pristine is pretentious and intimidating
If someone comes into your house and it looks as though it is staged for a sale, it can make others uncomfortable and they don’t want to sit or touch anything. Be real. Don’t try to run around for a whole day cleaning your house because you know that life group is happening over there today. Yes, you should keep your house tidy and it should smell nice, but no one should get a headache from the barrage of scents that flood their nose when they enter the door. I believe that anyone who wears too much perfume or sprays too much air freshener is definitely trying to cover something up.
5. A disciple wants to learn from you because they see JESUS in you, not because you are so great and wonderful.
Choosing to submit under someone does not mean that they will be your best friend. It’s not hang out time all the time. Be purposeful in your meetings. She wants to know about your relationship with Him. The relationship that you build with her should draw her closer to Him, not just closer to you. Actually, very clear boundaries should be drawn early. Be mindful of how much you share with those who are accountable to you. She doesn’t need to hear about your issues. YOU should be accountable to someone else, not her. Dump UP, not down.
6. Your integrity is your witness
If you struggle with being on time, don’t promise that you will meet at 7 AM to worship and pray, knowing that you don’t get out of bed until 9:30 on most days. Keep a calendar or set reminders so that you don’t over-commit yourself. And for the love of all that is holy, do NOT lie to get out of a commitment and don’t lie about your daily routine. If you don’t read the Word everyday, don’t say that you do. Trust me, it will be obvious when you begin to say, “Well, you know it says somewhere, I’m not sure where, something about how light and dark don’t go together…” It just doesn’t sound like you are a mouthpiece for God and you misrepresent Him.
7. Be mindful of touchy topics like homosexuality, abortion, abandoning children, drug addiction, alcoholism, etc.
We don’t know what others are dealing with currently or recently. People come to the Lord in a moment of brokenness and desperation, so when you are casually talking in mixed company, don’t say things like “I just don’t know how someone could give up their child…” or “Abortion is murder. Plain and simple. I just don’t see how any mother could do that…” or “All these waiters look like druggies…” or “Doesn’t he look gay?” or “OMGoodness! Look at all those tattoos…” All of these statements carry an undercurrent of judgement and simply distance you from someone who may have experienced any or all of these.
8. Remember the details.
If someone chooses to share the inner workings of their heart and their personal history, remember the details. Do not discount any of their feelings or experiences as insignificant or surmountable. We can find the similarities and not look at the differences. Someone’s worst is just as bad as my worst…the emotions are the same regardless.
9. Progress, not perfection
New believers don’t always want to hear how right you are or how perfect your life is. I will never forget listening over and over to what almost sounded like bragging from a couple of leaders when it came to their parenting. They made it seem like their child was perfect (a teenager, okay!!) and that they had just imparted all this mighty wisdom to her and she was completely obedient in every area. Talk about feeling inadequate and under-qualified for anything! Needless to say, I didn’t want to tell this person any of my struggles in parenting because I just knew they couldn’t relate (or so it seemed).
10. Don’t assume that people know the Bible, no matter how long they have been a believer.
“We all know the story of David and Goliath…” Well, no not really. I didn’t. However, this provoked me to learn it. Everyone doesn’t have that bone. Go easy. And some of those words like propitiation, sanctification, justification, regeneration…I felt “tion-ed” when I had no idea what people were talking about. Be patient to teach and never make anyone feel small.
Thankfully, God’s grace is sufficient. I am so grateful that I was looking at JESUS and though I saw a lot of flaws in people, it didn’t deter me from following Him. I just learned what NOT to do as I grew in grace and hopefully won’t make the same mistakes…I’ll just make different ones!!!
I would love to hear your stories of blunders and bloopers in this movie reel of a life we live! Share them, please!!! Thanks for reading!