Shows Main Idea – When assessing an individual, you are looking to unpack three broad categories to get to know their story better. I have created a visual aid to help you understand this concept, with the hope that it will serve you and the folks you are discipling.
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As you look at the graphic, you will notice that there are several sub-categories under each main category. Think through each one of them and begin praying for the folks you serve, asking God to show you how these ideas are playing out in the person’s life. Then ask God to give you the wisdom to be able to instruct them in a better way of living.
The Spiritual Person
Primarily, what you are looking for is an understanding of what his/her relationship like with God. And the area that you want to discern this information is at the level of the heart.
A sample question–among many–could be: Are you a person of integrity? To assess this, you can listen for clues about how their conscience processes the things that they do and at what level do they experience guilt (Romans 2:14-15).
- Does their conscience accuse them biblically, or is their conscience sensitive, in that it over-accuses them?
- Does their conscience excuse their behaviors; do they not feel guilt for obvious things that they should feel?
You are listening to and observing the “inner person” as you think through all the categories under this heading. (See the graphic for those categories.)
How has their relationship with God worked out at the level of the heart? Christ said, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45). He ties their words to their heart.
The Educated Person
What do they know about God? This query does not necessarily mean how intellectually smart they are. You are not looking for cultural, academic excellence as much as you are looking for theological excellence. It is not about whether they have a Ph.D. or a GED; the relevant question is, “What do they know about God?”
For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? – Mark 8:36
As you are discerning their theological understanding of God, you begin to explore their knowledge of the Word of God.
- What is the breadth and width of their Bible knowledge?
- Do they know how to make Bible “transitions”? Can they take the Word of God from the concept or principle stage and transition it to the functional and practical phase?
Christ was the Master at taking the Word and making it real.
- Can the individual draw the truth from the Word and tell you what it means to them in real and practical ways?
- For example, how does the Word of God function correctly in the context of their home life?
The Skilled Person
This is where the rubber meets the road as far as the real application of the Word of God is concerned. A general lack of application will more times than not be the reason they give you as to why they are seeking help.
They have not practically applied the Word of God to their lives, and they are having problems.
Be Warned: You cannot take an exclusive behavioral approach to your soul care. Discipleship is more than a “two-step” process. You’ll have to do more than asking them to “put-off” a bad behavior and “put-on” a better behavior.
You’ll need to dig deeper and broader into who they are. There will be much work to do in teaching a person how to apply the Word of God, first to themselves and then to the people who are directly in their lives.
- The Spiritual Person is the inner man: the heart, the conscience; who they are and the most critical part of this is how each of these categories are connected to and influenced by their relationship (or lack of relationship) with God.
- The Educated Person is their theology (their understanding of God). Is the person you are helping a man or woman of the Word?
- The Skilled Person is their application of their theology (their practical or functional theology day-to-day)
The balanced Christian life is the key to living well in God’s world, and that should be the goal for all of us. Paul would be an excellent example of a healthy, stable Christian, while the Pharisees “might” have excelled in knowledge, but their spiritual sphere was unregenerate and their application was unbiblical.
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