Several years ago, I was in Puerto Rico on mission with a team from the Abante International organization (a discipleship and leadership training program.) It was customary for us to have casual conversations during mealtimes, and sometimes those conversations would turn into deeper discussions about life, relationships, politics, and faith, among other topics. We never shied away from the tough questions and acknowledged those moments as perfect opportunities for good and healthy discipleship.
With this specific journey, there was a young lady that was often quiet during meals, as the rest of the team would openly share about whatever they wanted to talk about. After a few gatherings, she explained to me that her family does not talk during meals, and so our sharing was strange to her. It took some sensitivity to explain and coach her through something that seem not so wrong to the rest of the team, however to her it was different.
I’m happy to tell you that we made it through the next three months of community living with a new disposition at how different we all are, and how we can still co-exist in divergent environments. I know it sounds easy, but trust me, it is not when feelings, personalities, cultures, habits, and even beliefs become part of the equation. In order to accomplish goals we set out for any given situation, we need to be purposeful and have buckets of grace to give out to others and to ourselves.
I would lie if I told you that in every adventure where I was leading a group, only they learned something new. The truth is, I have found myself being cultured constantly, and here’s a shocker; my way of doing things hasn’t always been the best. I have eaten my share of humble pie on several occasions, and although the taste was bitter at first, eventually, I felt true refinement happening in my heart.
I’ve learned that discipleship has many looks, but always one goal: growth. A true leader recognizes that he or she does not have all the answers, and that perhaps among their followers, there can be a fountain of wisdom and knowledge yearning to be nurtured. I have had to learn to be ok with letting go of things I cannot control. I have also learned to find joy in situations that leave me feeling broken and confused.
I will tell you this though, for every “walk on water” moment that I have been courageous enough to pursue, storms where sure to find me. Yet even in the drowning, I could always look up and see the hand of my rescuer reaching into the deep to pull me out. Yes, I know I am faulty, and imperfect; we all are. But, how about we try this, let’s put ourselves above the troubled waters, and look down to those fading eyes, desperately trying to reach the surface. Just imagine being the hands they see, pulling them up to the surface, so they can emerge to something not wrong, but new and different.
Sometimes we are the ones drowning, and other times the ones saving. Still, let’s walk on water.