I have read, and continue to read, a lot of books about making disciples. Currently, I’m finishing up The Multiplier: Making Disciple Makers, by Waylon B. Moore. Dr. Moore is a retired pastor who is known around the world for his teachings on disciple-making. He’s even been called “one of the living pioneers in the area of discipleship training.”
I just read this piece in Chapter Nine, entitled Have a Parent Heart: “Helping disciples means observing their conduct with the opposite sex. Honest and frank words on this subject, spoken in love, must be shared with both single and married disciples so they learn how to ‘keep they heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life’ (Proverbs 4:23).”
That sounds like sound advice and I can’t actually count how many men I’ve talked with about purity and their relationship with the opposite sex. However even though this book was written just three years ago, it’s missing something major in discipling others in the area of purity today.
Just one day before I read this quotation, I was having a frank discussion with a married couple about how we may be missing the mark when we talk with people about sexual purity. They told me the story of a friend of theirs who had been asked to intern with a disciple-making ministry. Recently, this friend had not only left the ministry, he left the faith and was becoming quite angry about the current state of Christianity. I think about him like the fellow in the photo above; all alone in his struggle.
I’ll call this fellow “Joe,” since I can’t even remember his actual name. Joe was attending a required ministry training course on sexual wellness, along with the couple who knew the story. They relate that Joe sat in the back of the room, fuming and rolling his eyes as the trainers spoke about maintaining purity.
Why was Joe so angry and disengaged in a subject that many men have eagerly, though candidly, talked about with me? Because the training wasn’t scratching Joe where he itched. Joe didn’t have a problem in his conduct with the opposite sex (to refer back to Dr. Moore’s quote). Joe wasn’t even interested in the opposite sex. Joe’s interests were in people of the same sex. The training wasn’t even considering that anyone in the room might have that kind of attraction.
One of the first rules of discipling someone is to know them. Know your man. Know your ma’am. These have been basic instructions in disciple-making since I became a Christian. Your disciple’s interests or inclinations, or even his activities in this area of life are based on deeply held ideas and feelings. If we don’t take the time to really know who it is that we’re discipling, we’ll most likely wind up with a disconnected, and even angry, Joe.
You may not be comfortable asking a question about sexual orientation or attraction. But think about how the other person feels if you never go there, and worse, you disciple them based on your assumption that he’s just like you. Quite frankly, I’ve never had anyone get angry when I asked them about this. And yes, I’ve asked it a lot.
What are the assumptions that you might be working under? There are probably a number that you would never even consider until you realize (or are told) that you’re headed the wrong direction. Do you ask someone you’ve recently met to get coffee in order to get to know them? Not everyone drinks coffee, including me. (I got asked to meet for coffee again today!) Do you assume there’s an interest in cars, or cooking, or video games? You might think that because you’re from the same generation that you have the same interests. And you’ll be wrong fairly often.
Check your assumptions at the door. Ask more questions; lots more! That’s the best way to disciple someone.
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Photo credit: https://www.splitshire.com/solitary-man-pub/