In their very helpful manual, the authors of Real Life Discipleship Training Manual, walk their readers through 5 stages of spiritual growth:
- Young Adult
Today we talk about the last stage – “Spiritual Parent”. Before we do, let’s review the previous 4 stages.
Spiritual death is characterized by unbelief and rebellion: People who are spiritually dead, do not believe in Jesus, and are living exactly as they please, whether it’s as a prodigal son, who’s living it up, and burning his life down; or an elder brother, who’s super religious, lives by the rules, but doesn’t know God’s grace and the humility that comes with it.
Spiritual infancy is characterized by ignorance: After someone is raised to new life, and becomes a new believer in Jesus Christ (we can use the phrase “born again”) – that person knows he belongs to Jesus, but doesn’t yet know the Bible; good doctrine; good, godly habits of unselfish love and service.
Spiritual children are characterized by selfishness: This is the person who has begun to learn, but is going through – usually significant – growing pains. They are still driven by this question: “What’s in it for me?” Spiritual Children can also be very sentimental: They love the sound – the idea – of being a disciple: It sounds “romantic”, and may bring tears to their eyes, but when the rubber hits the road, they retreat.
Spiritual Young Adults are characterized by service: They are looking for opportunities to love and serve God and their neighbor, in the name of Christ, but need to grow in accountability, good boundaries, and equipping for service.
Here are 2 important things to say, before we describe who a Spiritual Parent is, and what she does:
- You do not have to wait to be a Spiritual Parent, to begin to be a disciple who makes disciples – in fact, maturing spiritually, through the stages, happens as we struggle to take seriously that every disciple of Jesus, is called to make disciples, starting today, right where you are.
- We shouldn’t take the stages to mean that one stage is more valuable than another. A Spiritual Parent is not more a part of the family of God; a Spiritual Infant is not less a member – both are “precious in His sight.”
This is the definition of “Spiritual Parent” that the authors of Real Life, offer: “A Spiritual parent intentionally cooperates with God to reproduce disciples.”
- They build relationships so that discipleship can happen.
- The can reproduce the process they learned to become a disciple.
- They are able to feed themselves spiritually on worship, fellowship, service, God’s Word, and prayer – all of these, on a consistent, daily and weekly basis. One of the most important personal disciplines that feed the Spiritual Parent, is the memorization of Scripture: We must have the words of our Lord and Savior on our hearts and minds, if we want to live faithfully as his disciples.
- They work in teams with other disciples, because they know they don’t have enough – on their own – to do what God calls them to do. The most basic “team” is the church, and may also include mission, fellowship, or other teams.
Now that we’ve reached the final stage, let me ask you 2 questions:
Where are you, on this journey?
How can we help you reach the next stage – to become what Jesus called you to be as a disciple who makes disciples?
These are the practices we must take on, if we want to be what Jesus called us to be:
Sunday worship: The command is clear – “Remember the Sabbath, and keep it holy.”
Fellowship with other believers: We need encouragement during the week, to grow as disciples.
Service to those in need: We receive from God to give to others, without thought of reward.
Personal daily Bible study: Listen to God, in Scripture. Get his words into your heart and mind, so that you can truly be his disciple.
Personal daily prayer: Speak to God, as you would your most important Friend.