Your relationship with Jesus Christ, grounded in prayer, Scripture, community and service, is central to everything else in your life. But your relationships with others are also important for your ongoing growth. Healthy, intentional relationships with other people can help you follow God.
Creative and consistent commitment to God’s call requires the help of others. The model of the relationship of Jesus with his disciples is a great example. While each disciple heard and responded to a unique and personal call to follow Jesus, each also entered into a community of disciples. Lives of faithful discipleship and courageous leadership were sharpened and deepened in community with other servant leaders.
Discipleship relationship types
Here are some examples of relationships and models for discipleship that can offer you support in your walk with God.
Gather weekly with two other people who share your commitment to following God’s call for at least year. Ground your time together in God’s Word and trust in one another and in God’s plan for you. Transformation occurs as triad members discern together what Christ is doing in their lives and how they are called to respond. Discerning together provides spiritual accountability and encouragement, even though you may have different callings.
Leadership collaboratives are groups of eight to twelve leaders who commit to grow as spiritual leaders and use their ministry context as an environment for expanding their leadership capacity. In a leadership collaborative, you’ll journey together through a field-tested, three-year process designed to grow your personal leadership, organizational leadership, and reproducing leadership. Learn more here.
Communicate how you see God shaping your life with the ones you love and that love you. It will make it possible for family members to encourage, support, and walk alongside you in times of joy and questioning. It will promote spiritual growth opportunities at home, and if you are married it may strengthen that relationship. These family relationships aren’t limited to your immediate family; they may include parents and siblings as well.
Transformational one-on-one relationships
One or more one-on-one relationships—especially a coaching relationship—will help empower you as you apply what you are learning, seek new ways to be faithful to your calling, and discern God’s ever emerging future. Being in a one-on-one relationship, such as coaching, will enable you to:
- Grow deeper in Christ-like character.
- Gain increasing clarity and focus in your calling.
- Develop new ministry competencies.
- Live out your calling with courage.
A coach is often a peer who has been trained to listen attentively and ask powerful questions in order to help you be who God is calling you to be and do what God is calling you to do. A coach helps you grow in awareness and understanding of the present through discernment and self-discovery in order to help you live into God’s preferred future with intentional follow through and implementation. A coach also adds an element of accountability that helps you act on your intentions.
A mentor is a person who, through training and experience, has knowledge, demonstrates skills, or exhibits character traits that you would like to more fully develop yourself. A mentoring relationship grows out of an affinity with the mentor. Although a good mentor always listens carefully and asks good questions, when you ask someone to be your mentor you invite that person to share his or her acquired knowledge drawn from past experiences in order to help you live more faithfully in the present.
Which type of relationship do you need right now?
Identifying past coaches, spiritual directors, and mentors often provides encouragement and helps you identify the type of one-to-one relationships you need at this stage in your life.
As you review your past relationships, reflect on the following:
- What types of relationships has God used to nurture your growth?
- Who has helped you grow as a disciple?
- What types of relationships are missing?
- Would a mentor or counselor be helpful?
- Do you need someone to disciple you?
- Do you have a coaching relationship in place?
- Do you need a coach?
- Who can help you find a coach?
In a nutshell
As you share your dreams, calling, and life experiences in life-giving relationships, you’ll gain a greater self awareness, and your life as a follower of Christ will take on new meaning. Developing and maintaining these relationships will help you to sustain your calling through the daily adventure of life as a baptized child of God.
This article was adapted from Purposeful Living, a structured and biblically grounded process designed to help you find your calling from God.