When you are about to disciple someone, where do you begin as far as developing a plan for their discipleship care? Your starting point will determine how you will act during the process, as well as how you finish your care of them.
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The primary attitude you want before you begin caring for another individual is affection for that person. It is unwise to attempt soul care if you do not feel love for the person you’re discipling. And the way you gain this kind of affection is by having a divine perspective about them.
A divine perspective happens when you see the individual the way God’s sees them. All good discipleship requires a “divine perspective” because in the “soul care business,” there is no place for thoughtless or unkind care.
Perspective Determines Affection
If you view the person that you are counseling the way God sees them, your perspective will be correct, and you will be at the right starting point to begin the discipleship process.
Key Idea: Affection for others is rooted in your perspective of others.
In 1 Corinthians 1:4-9 you are able to see, read, and feel Paul’s attitude and affection for a group of unruly and proud people. The attitude and affection that Paul had for the Corinthians were rooted in his divine perspective of the Corinthians.
Here is how he said it at the beginning of his first letter to them.
- Verse 4 – I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus,
- Verses 5, 6 – that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge—even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you—
- Verses 7, 8, 9 – so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Paul had gratitude for them (4), he acknowledged their identity in Christ (5, 6) and he had faith that God would complete what He started (7, 8, 9).
Gaining a Divine Perspective
- Paul spent time in private prayer thanking God and praying for the Corinthians. (Verse 4)
- Paul recognized these were God’s children. He knew that he was bringing care to blood-bought children. (Verses 5 and 6)
- Paul had faith that no matter how complicated things appeared now, God was going to complete His good work in them. (Verses 7, 8, 9) See also Philippians 1:6
Paul’s affection for this challenging church body was a profound declaration of the grace of God in his life, and it’s an excellent template for you to think about as you approach the work of discipleship. Meaning, you must tether the motive of your heart to a divine perspective that will give you extraordinary affection for those you serve prior to serving them.
How is your heart toward unruly people?
Whether your friend needs correction, the way Paul eventually corrected the Corinthians, or your friend needs other forms of soul care, you should model Paul’s attitude and affection for the Corinthians before you begin the discipleship process.
Call to Action
Perhaps you’re caring for a family member, extended relative, or church member. As you think about them, assess yourself: do you have divine affection for them?
- Are your private thoughts and prayers for that person seasoned with grace and gratitude?
- How does knowing that the person you’re caring for was created in God’s image, and may also be God’s child affect your soul care?
- Do you believe there is hope for the person you’re discipling? Or, does that person “feel” your faith in God that He will finish what He started with them?
Also published on Medium.