And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:42-45).

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God (James 1:19-20).

Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment. A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion (Prov 18:1-2).

A few weeks ago, we had at our Chi Alpha group Pastors Joe and Kelli Carson from Life Church in Memphis, who lead the Memphis Dream Center. They are amazing leaders, and our staff had the opportunity to pick their brains during our staff small group.

During this time, the Spirit used something they said to give me insight on a problem that I had had before:

I used to disciple a student, and it was just really hard to lead him. He just never seemed to step up and take initiative. For years, I struggled with trying to figure out what to do.

Then he went and did an internship somewhere else (quick shout out for the Summer Job Project at Bozeman XA, which is a fantastic discipleship program). When he came back, he was very different, really driven. And he excitedly shared all these great things that had really inspired him. And I was excited for him, and we moved on.

While Dr. Joe was speaking about leadership, something he was saying about how he leads his volunteers reminded me of all this. And I suddenly realized: that guy I had so much trouble leading? When he came back, all excited and driven, he told me how to lead him!

He shared what had inspired him, what had driven him to do things he would never have done before the internship. And that was the key to leading him: he was telling me what got him to lead himself!

It is so frustrating to try to lead someone who just isn’t responding! I could have saved myself so much frustration and effort if I had just listened better to the guy I was trying to disciple!

This is such a valuable—and obvious, but also so often overlooked—part of discipleship: listening to those you lead.

As you disciple people, don’t just tell them things. Listen to them and observe how they respond. What do they respond to? What doesn’t seem to ever hit home? Not just to things you say, but to things they share about their lives. Are they a hard worker at their job but don’t help set up or tear down events? What are they responding to at their job that is lacking at Chi Alpha (aside from getting paid)?

Listen to those you lead. What drives them? What inspires them?

All views expressed on this blog are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of Chi Alpha Campus Ministries, U.S.A., U.S. Missions, and The General Council of the Assemblies of God.

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