When I was a little girl, I had an episode in a pool that instilled in me a bit of a fear of water. Learning to swim wasn’t something I was eager to do! I would get a death grip on the side of the pool, or on my little life preserver, rather than believe what my swimming mother was trying to teach me – that I could let go and learn to swim on my own.
It was on a family vacation, when I was about seven that I finally agreed to try to learn to swim. My mom was always close by, of course. I’d stand a mere three feet away and swim towards her, my arms outstretched, ready for her to grasp my hands. Over time, I learned to swim further distances. I got to the place where I learned to dive off the side of a swimming pool, hold my breath and swim to the bottom of the pool, or even race another swimmer across as I gained speed. It all happened because I learned from my instructor/mom to let go.
On Tuesday’s post, I encouraged the need for us to teach our children so they will be ready to venture out on their own with life skills under their belts. The spiritual application of that truth is even greater! We must give our children – as well as the people we are mentoring and/or discipling the tools needed for them to know how to grow on their own when we open our hands and they go out on their own.
Young disciples need to be taught independence. We need to teach them how to pray, where to find comfort in the Scriptures, how to run to the Throne and pour out their disappointments to the Lord, how to gain the most spiritual food in services, retreats and biblical radio broadcasts. They shouldn’t need us by their side forever. Our responsibility as a discipler is to equip – just as we do our children. The young disciple should know that the way they can honor their trainer is to go out and do what they’ve been taught! They need to swim!
I trust that you are indeed pouring your life into someone else – a child or a younger woman. Keep the goal of independence in mind as you train. There should come a time in the trainee’s life that they don’t need you for survival anymore! They need to know that they have learned to make it on their own. Oh, you can “stand on the side of the pool” and cheer them on, but it will be with the confidence that you won’t have to jump in and rescue them from drowning, because you’ve taught them the skills necessary to stay afloat!
As you train others, keep the goal of independence in mind! Who are you teaching? Are they becoming less and less dependent on you? That’s when you know you’ve been successful! Then, joy of joys, they’ll go out and find someone else to teach in God’s ways!