How to “Tee Up” Discipleship

The morning perusal of The Dallas Morning News turned up an interesting article on sports psychologists. The story told about a young and very talented area golfer that has had his game improved by a sports psychologist. Here is a bit of that article.

Sixteen-year-old Fort Worth golfer Robert Perry remembers losing focus and blowing a 3-under-par, tournament-leading round, resulting in a four-over-par exercise in embarrassment. Parents and coaches had told him, and he knew, he needed to play one shot at a time.

“People can tell you to do things all they want to,” he says. “But until they show you how, you can’t do it.”

And it occurred to me that sixteen-year-old golfer Robert Perry had beautifully summed up the essence of Christian discipleship. This journey with Jesus is hard. We need others to come along side us and show us how. I don’t need one more person telling me to read more Scripture, pray more fervently and strive to be more godly. I have heard that for three decades.

Show me how. Walk with me as I learn. That is discipleship. Paul wrote a pretty good little job description to Titus.

Your job is to speak out on the things that make for solid doctrine. Guide older men into lives of temperance, dignity, and wisdom, into healthy faith, love, and endurance. Guide older women into lives of reverence so they end up as neither gossips nor drunks, but models of goodness. By looking at them, the younger women will know how to love their husbands and children, be virtuous and pure, keep a good house, be good wives. We don’t want anyone looking down on God’s Message because of their behavior. Also, guide the young men to live disciplined lives.

But mostly, show them all this by doing it yourself, incorruptible in your teaching, your words solid and sane. Then anyone who is dead set against us, when he finds nothing weird or misguided, might eventually come around. (Titus 2, The Message)

Show them. What a concept! So the whole judging and condemning thing doesn’t work? The Morning News had a checklist from Robert Perry. His list is very adaptable to the concept of discipleship. He calls them mantras. When translated to God’s plan I would call them truths. Perhaps the term discipler has lost it’s meaning or seems archaic. So call yourself a journey coach or whatever you wish. But the fact is that the body of Christ desperately needs followers of Jesus who are willing to teach and especially show others how to mature in their faith. Here are Mr.Perry’s excellent sports pointers and how they can be adapted to discipleship.

• Keep it simple.

Discipleship Version: Keep it simple. Jesus gave us a simple game plan. Love the Lord your God with all of your heart and your neighbor as yourself.

• Look like a winner.

Discipleship Version: You are a winner. When you put your trust in Jesus you became a new creature. You are changed. You are a saint in the eyes of God.

• Focus on the now.

Discipleship Version: Focus on who you are. You are not who you used to be. You have been changed. So your past has no power over you now.

• Hit one shot at a time.

Discipleship Version: Live in the moment in the power of His Holy Spirit. Satan would have you live in regret of the past (already redeemed and no longer valid) or in fear of the future (already securely in the hands of a trustworthy God). So live today fully.

• Avoid golf chatter and the inevitable negative memories that arise.

Discipleship Version: Avoid gossip and negative chatter. Don’t allow those old tapes of who you used to be discourage and defeat you. That is not who you are now.

• Don’t go for the perfect shot; aim for consistency. In golf terms, that means focus on hitting pars, not birdies.

Discipleship Version: To quote my old friend John Weber (who is now with Jesus)…”Don’t strive to be spectacular. Strive to be faithful.”

• Don’t worry about what other people think. Focus on what you’re doing. What will happen, will happen.

Discipleship Version: Find a safe place where you tell others what is true about you…both good and bad. That will help you mature into a authentic follower of Christ in an atmosphere of grace.

• You’re the one in control. Your opponent has nothing to do with how you hit the golf ball.

Discipleship Version: A one-hundred eighty degree reversal. You are not the one in control. You can’t justify your sins by your own works. And you cannot mature in Christ by your own works. Both are dependent on God and His grace. Allowing Him to love you and receiving that love. And to quote my TrueFaced boys again…

The whole idea is simply maturing into what God says is already true about you.