An old proverb runs, "Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime." That is one of the goals of Christian discipleship: to teach the other person to fish.

Put otherwise, your goal is to help the person you are discipling to mature. To make decisions. To discern the will of the Lord. To think well and logically.

Think about a typical family: when children are young, many decisions are made for them. They need to be taught a great deal. Sheltered and shielded. But as they grow up, a sign of maturity is that they begin to make decisions on their own. Their thinking processes develop. They learn to weigh pros and cons. They discern good from evil. That is the goal of discipleship as well.

For example, I was at one time discipling a wonderful woman. She called me one day and said that she didn't want to attend the church's weekly Bible study anymore, and what did I think? I could have said, "Yes," or "No," and given some reason - but that would only have addressed the problem of the day. Instead, I asked her a series of questions: Why did she want to stop attending? Was she too busy? Was her job over-stressing her? Was the Bible study itself causing her some disturbance, for instance, did she have a conflict with someone there, or was the teaching somehow "off"?

By helping her analyze her emotional state, the Bible study itself, and her situation in life in general, she was able to come to the conclusion that she was over-committed in her responsibilities, and that it was appropriate to stop attending the Bible study since she was getting solid spiritual food elsewhere throughout the week.

Six months later, she had a similar situation where she needed to make a decision about commitments - and she was able to discern the right course with ease and confidence. She had learned how to fish.

© 2008 Paula Marolewski

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Author's Bio: 

Paula J. Marolewski provides challenging and interactive adult Bible studies for individuals, Bible studies, small groups, and adult Sunday School classes at Sink Your Roots ( Studies include such topics as Debunking the Myths about Knowing God's Will. The above article is an excerpt from Walk with Me: Being a Faith Partner in the Family of God.