I am really good at making excuses. I trust I’m not alone in this. Oddly enough, the better something is for us, the more we tend to avoid it. Healthy eating, exercise, school work, and so on—despite knowing what we should do, we whip up excuses to not do it, no matter how much we know we ought to.
Starting a new discipline in our Christian walk is often no different. We know it to be helpful or even necessary, and might get as far as a good start, but it quickly falls by the way as life and excuses crowd it out of our schedules and minds.
Diligent reading and faithful discipleship are often on that list of things we excuse our way out of at various times in our lives. For a new Christian or someone new to Christian books, there may be more legitimate excuses: they may not know where to start, and using reading as a discipleship tool may seem overwhelming, especially if you’re new to both. Discipling another person, while still finding a solid footing in the faith, may seem too much to tackle. For a Christian more established in the faith, there are still excuses to overcome: feeling like we’re beyond needing the basics, feeling burn out from serving or ministry, or even still feeling inadequate to disciple others despite our familiarity with Christianity.
But there are many ways to start. Rather than looking to disciple others through reading (though still a good thing!), a Christian of ten weeks or ten years can benefit from asking someone further along in growth and maturity to help lead them through a good book. Taking the initiative and asking a fellow Christian who is further along in their walk to read with us can provide accountability, increased understanding, and growth in ways that reading and learning alone wouldn’t.
An example of a great book that would fit this situation well is Paul Grimmond’s book Right Side Up. It might be a little long for someone who isn’t already a reader, but it’s easy to get through and is broken into short chapters. The book could be read a couple of chapters at a time, and the readers could meet to discuss what was covered in those chapters and any questions that arose. Reading at this pace, and checking in with someone who can explain and discuss the ideas along the way, will help process the information as it comes.
Reading a book like Right Side Up, with a structure that covers the basics of Christianity provides a helpful framework for intentional discipling through regular meetings like this. Both readers can rely on the content of the book to give direction and cover the foundational principles of what it means to be a Christian, and then move on to discuss what that might look like on a personal level for each of them. In Right Side Up, there are real life stories and very practical advice on how we can go about reordering our thoughts and behaviours as we grow up as Christ-followers. He also includes Bible readings that can be done as or after you read.
Grimmond states in the first chapter that he hopes the book helps his readers know Jesus better and to see why and how following Jesus turns our worlds “right side up”. For the new Christian, this is exciting and revolutionary. But this can still be exciting and revolutionary even for the Christian who has followed Jesus for decades. We often lose perspective on how being a Jesus-follower should be turning our lives around. It’s difficult to see it in ourselves. This is why reading a book with an ‘older’ Christian who can share both insights from their lives and a different perspective on our lives can be a vital part of growing up in Christ. No matter where we are in our Christian walk, may we not neglect or excuse ourselves from this opportunity to walk with those ahead of us.