For a summary of what I’m hoping to accomplish in this blog series (in the fourth week of every month of 2018), I recommend reviewing my explanation here.
Tommy White is the Lead Campus Minister for Impact Campus Ministries in Salt Lake City, UT. He works with students at the University of Utah, Westminster, Salt Lake Community College, and others. One of his favorite things is working with the Utes basketball team as chaplain. Tommy has had a great time building on his efforts in discipleship; since that was our topic from last week's post, I asked him to share some stories for our Pull Up a Chair series.
Entering this last semester, I was praying for any opportunities to help a male student in pursuing God in a more personal way. I didn’t want to throw it our there for the masses, nor did I want to manipulate a student into saying “yes” when he maybe didn’t really want to. Sometime in September, within the same week, two guys showed interest in going deeper and so I challenged them with a vision for just that. A couple weeks later, another student wanted to take his relationship with Jesus to a deeper level.
The first student, Errol, is a junior at the University of Utah. I met him two years ago and have spent many coffees and lunches since then talking about spiritual things. He was a ballet major, then switched to a metallurgy major. He’s super smart and very scientific (as is his girlfriend). While a very deep thinker, there was a lot of room for him to grow in spending “alone time” pursuing God. We’ve met on campus and at a coffee shop twice a week for almost two months. (I also see him two or three other times a week, so we are super connected.)
As I did with the other two guys, at the outset, I explained
- there are many tools for pursuing God.
- this isn’t about being good enough, but about learning to love God intentionally.
- I am going to model for you some different ways to connect with God.
- this is about a personal relationship, so in all we do individually, we want to make it a conversation with God, not about God.
- this modeling might feel weird at first, but that’s how we learn, by someone showing us how to do something.
- God is Spirit, so we need to train ourselves to connect with Him “in spirit,” which is hard to do.
With Errol, I’ve modeled for him (by sitting next to him or walking with him) how to journal your thoughts, intercessory prayer, Scripture memory, Scripture typing, solitude, and personal worship. I’ve in no way mastered these, nor am I consistent, but I am pursuing God and moving forward, and I believe my disciple sees that.
Luke, the second disciple, is a senior at Westminster College. We meet on Wednesday afternoons. His schedule is intense and overly full already, so we didn’t try to add anymore to his plate for the time being. One seemed hard enough for Luke. (I also guarded my day off, which played into why we had a hard time making a second day work. This semester, I think we should make a better effort at getting a second day down.) We met inside the cafeteria as well as outside in the courtyard. With Luke, we get sidetracked sometimes and talk about relationships or some other important topic that is on his mind. This discipleship relationship is more flexible, though we cover most of the same disciplines as with Errol.
Tyson, the last guy, is an electronic music student at a local engineering school. I meet with Tyson on Mondays at 6 am. Our time started out more rushed, so we talked about that and tried to make more time. We met some in the afternoons, but it seemed our time wasn’t as consistent. With Tyson, we covered most of the same disciplines.
With each of these guys, my intention was to pursue God through modeling disciplines. As you read above, it didn’t always happen that way. This next semester, I will be more vigilant in sticking to the plan. There are plenty of other times we meet and can talk there. I want to focus on why we’re meeting for these one-on-one-times.
We had a final pizza get together in mid-December where the guys discovered who the other two are. It was one of the best times I’ve had. We talked about our memory verses, what we appreciated about the format, and what we learned. By far, the most common feedback from those three guys was that typing made the difference. Whether it was prayer, journal thoughts, or typing the Word of God, all three said typing made it so personal and helped clarify their thoughts and organize what was floating around in their heads. I was really pumped that they were that impacted! Each of them also tried to strengthen their own personal times throughout the week.
One distraction, at times, was noise or activity around our meeting together. Sometimes it didn’t seem to make a difference, but other times, other people’s conversations got in the way. That’s something to consider for the future.
Finally, this adventure showed me that I have a long way to go in being consistent in my pursuit.