Part 1 of a 2 part guest post by Tim Norman. Read the excellent follow up post here.
Last fall Tim Norman (our new regional director) came to visit our team and he shared some insightful thoughts on meeting with students (and being VERY intentional about what we do and do NOT talk about). I’ve asked him to share those thoughts over a couple posts (in the first-ever Guest Post for this blog!).
Tim just started blogging and I encourage you to subscribe to his feed. Tim’s a critical thinker – you will benefit from his wisdom and insight.
The Apostle Paul motivates many of us who attempt to influence others to follow Jesus. Some things he had to say are pretty challenging. He said, “To live is Christ; to die is gain” (Phil 1:21). To be honest, many days it would be a stretch for me to say that for me to live is Christ. I have wondered if some things that Paul says are somewhat off limits for me to say.
One of the other things Paul said that I thought was out of bounds for me is “Imitate me, as I imitate Christ” (1 Cor 11:1).
One night, after a discussion at Applebee’s on which translation of the Bible was the best (did we know how to have a good time or what?), I went home and thought, “Everything that was being said around the table at Applebee’s was something that those guys heard from the guys that are discipling them.” I had heard the entire discussion before; the difference was it had come out of someone else’s mouth.
After going to my apartment, I had what I now refer to as the post-Applebee’s epiphany.
As someone who is trying to influence others for Christ and take up the task of making disciples, people will imitate me.
I accepted that I cannot alter the fact that people will imitate me. As a leader, I will influence others. Those that I begin to disciple, they will imitate me.
I made a choice to be intentional with what I will talk about others with. There are certain things that I want to pass along to them. Initially, there are few convictions and motivations that I hope to pass along. I’ll post an entry later this week on a few of the key things that I seek to pass along to students that I disciple.
I also embrace that I have limited time with someone. For the vast majority of students I will have only sat down in a one-on-one setting fewer than 10 times. Some, I will only get together with a few times.
What will I talk about during those times? What do I want them to imitate?
I do not care about which translation of the Bible the guys I disciple use. For the most part, I do not even talk about it. Some of my theological positions or proclivities don’t fall into those few times.
What I did talk about initially was the gospel and the greatness of Jesus. I’ll share more about that later. Even accepting that I’ll likely need to talk about it more than once makes me keep my list short. After all, in most cases we are hoping for total worldview overhaul. And that may take a pass or two at a topic.
So, even if I had 40 times with a student over 2 years, I would still have to bring focus. I asked myself, what experience and training can I give them that they likely won’t receive somewhere else?
I encourage you as a leader to take stock of what you want others to imitate from their encounters with you. As a leader, you will influence their lives. That’s what leaders do. What will characterize that influence? Do they come away knowing that you are someone who can chat it up about the ESPN highlights? Do they know you have theological superheroes, past or present, that make your heart quiver? Do they begin to see that you are captivated by the magnitude of Jesus and his call on your life?
What are the top 5 things that you want to make sure you pass along?
photo courtesy of colindunn