Peter Muturi Kimotho

Asking the Right Questions in Discipleship

It’s important to remember that we are all a work in progress. That others have laboured had in us than we’ll ever know. And that men cannot be changed by giving the right answers, by guilt or beating them with the truth. We have to be patient as we call on the one who changes people from inside out to do his work. But we can be patient with others because God is very patient with us. Just look at how Jesus was patient with the disciples. Even after his death and resurrection he still has to seek them out. He still has to go for Thomas and Peter. How many times do you think God has sought you out?

The work of discipleship is both easy and hard. It is clear and messy. Straightforward and yet deeper than we imagine. It’s possible to say that person is sorted now only to find yourself dealing with the unthinkable. Easy to tick a box too early and assume growth. But the fact that we are lifelong disciples means none of us have arrived yet and it won’t be that easy discipling others. The problem comes when we start hearing the kind of answers we want to hear. We assume people who give the right answers to theological questions are ready for the next level of discipleship; leadership and teaching opportunities. We figure out if they understand predistination surely they can lead young people. They get the trinity then they can disciples others. They have read far and wide on God’s sovereignty, get them a new believers class to teach.
But perhaps instead of focusing on the answers people give we should focus more on the questions we ask. We need to be careful that people aren’t telling us exactly what we want to hear which happens a lot. We need to ask our questions in way that let’s people know it’s okay to speak their minds. In an environment that doesn’t make people feel foolish if they get things wrong. One thing I’ve learnt from many of us in Africa is that we hate to look foolish so we would rather guess or pretend to know than say something that makes people laugh at our intelligence. Perhaps that’s why question and answer sessions don’t work very well with us. You may have to draw it out and be vulnerable in a more friendly environment. And when you ask questions the last thing you want is to make us feel like we are in an examination setting. We hate that. So what kind of questions should we ask?
One I would say questions that lead us to the heart more than the head. You’ve probably heard this saying that there’s always a question behind the question. That’s the question you want to get to. If someone is asking all these hard theological questions about God’s sovereignty in suffering answering them theologically is not enough. You need to also get behind it all and see what exactly is it that they are struggling with.
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The Idol of the People Pleaser

When the temptation comes to please people more than God let’s remember what men are like. Don’t be fooled by the compliments of men. They will not give you what you need. Only Jesus is worthy of our worship. Men will have ulterior motives but Jesus has already served us even before we accepted him. He loved us before we even gave him our attention and died for us when we were still in our sins. If you substitute Jesus for that man of God or that ministry team you will for sure regret it. 

You meet this guy who always shows up when he’s needed. He never wants to fail people. If anything he’ll go out of his way to serve others. You think, if everyone was like him how far would this ministry go. Why can’t people be this committed? But then you realise something, he doesn’t take criticism kindly. He’s easily injured by correction and plagued by a lack of attention. You notice especially that when a certain figure is away he’s not as committed. You come at a crossroads because you need his energy and commitment but you don’t want to take advantage of them. Well, what you have is a classic example of a man-pleaser.
The problem with man-pleasing is that it’s hard to distinguish it from genuine commitment and most people don’t even know it’s their ailment. We think we are sold out for the Gospel and its good works but in truth, it’s our idol begging us to worship. If we give our best to church but feel bad when people don’t appreciate it then we have a problem. If our attitude to service changes with who’s around then we are pleasing people. If we easily give up serving on account of criticism or lack of attention then we have an idol in pleasing people. Unfortunately, people make for very bad idols. They will without fault fail us. Worse they will take advantage of us. False teachers especially love this kind of people because with the right words they’ll do everything for them. But is there hope for us?
Please a Different Man
There’s one man who we can please and he’ll never fail us. One man who will never take advantage of us and for whom we have all the motivation to serve. He’s the man who dragged a cross all through Jerusalem and was hung outside the city for our sake. If you want to please a man, try Jesus. If anyone deserves our time and attention let it be Jesus. The beauty of it is he’s always watching, unlike that ministry leader.
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Entitlement is the Enemy of Worship

May the Lord help us to kill entitlement. May he remind us by his Gospel what it cost his son to save us. That it’s his breath that keeps us alive and his hands that hold the universe together. Help us Lord to kill this sense of entitlement in us. Help us so that we may serve you wholeheartedly. That we may give cheerfully. To serve others with a clean heart and approach you with thanksgiving in our hearts. Give us the posture of Jesus that approaches the cup with trust in you. 

Many times we approach God like we do an employer. We come not broken and indebted but rather anxious and annoyed at him. Why? Well because we feel he’s failing us. We come to collect our paycheck for service rendered and it’s late or unavailable. We feel we’ve done our part better than most but when we need him he’s not there. Think about when you’ve needed that job so badly. Perhaps it was a business deal or a relationship you were pursuing. Think of when you were unwell or had an ailing loved one. Perhaps you were facing loss. The lie says you serve God, give your best and he’ll get you sorted. It’s more like being the employee of the year and your boss will look after you. He’ll surely not want to let you go. Except that’s not how it works.
Many who blame God and quit the faith do so because of this wrong expectation. We feel God owed us and yet he didn’t come through for us when we needed him. It’s a relationship bound to have a bitter ending. But it’s not really a relationship, to begin with. It’s more or less what exists between you and your shopkeeper. The goods are what bring you together. Without them, you’ve really no need to know each other. You’ve no relationship outside of this business. Such is what happens when we view God as our boss or shopkeeper. We expect a wage for service rendered and our relationship doesn’t go beyond what we get from him.
Privilege is the Posture of Scripture
With this entitlement, we feel wronged when God doesn’t come through for us. How could he not? We feel betrayed because we believe he owes us this much. But scripture puts across a different posture altogether. In place of entitlement, it gives us privilege. It says we owe him everything. We owe him our lives and for the Christian our second lives. It says ours is a relationship of grace. That what we have is not ours. What we do is not our work. And our very lives are not our own. In this regard, God doesn’t really owe us anything and yet he’s called us to ask everything from him.
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