This originally appeared as a devo on whillschurch.org
One of the most awkward, uncomfortable moments I have ever had in my life involved a little boy interrupting his mother while she was in the middle of a conversation. I realize that happens all the time but what made this interruption so…so…so wrong….is what he said.
Imagine a 4 or 5 year old boy, pulling on his mother’s shirt and screaming at the top of his lungs…”I WANT TO NURSE!”
Still today, right now – I don’t know what to say. There are no words. And just when you think it really doesn’t get any more awkward than this – the mom says something along the lines “I really hate it when he acts like this.”
So there really is a 7th level of Awkwardness.
Hardly anyone is shocked when they see a newborn nurse. It’s cute when those little tikes can’t quite handle a spoon and you have to play airplane with them to get that wonderful baby food squash in them. It’s cute when those toddlers rumble around the place with a sippee cup. It’s cute when a parent has to cut the steak for one of their kids.
But this moment was not cute.
Sadly, this scene plays out in churches every single Sunday.
Not literally – figuratively. Another term is used – people demand to “be fed.” Now obviously, our corporate gatherings should be times where we can “feed,” but for to many people it’s the only spiritual meal of the week they eat. That’s akin to walking into Golden Corral on Sunday, gorging yourself til you can barely walk out the doors and then not eating again until next Sunday. (This is in no way an endorsement for the Golden Trough. Nor is it a criticism. Carrying on…)
We must learn how to feed ourselves spiritually. Must. We can not rely on second hand information and experiences if we want our faith to be a solid, life-changing force. The church has a responsibility to teach the word and provide opportunities to serve the community in Jesus’ name. It’s not “the church’s” responsibility to make sure every congregant is “eating” during the week. When I send my kids to school – I’m assuming they know how to eat their lunch on their own without me there.
So how do we learn to feed ourselves?
This is where the spiritual disciplines come into play. Two books that have been the most helpful to me in this area are Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline and John Ortberg’s The Life You’ve Always Wanted.
Here’s what I walk through with whoever I’m discipling. None of these ideas are my own but a collection of thoughts from men like Foster, Ortberg, Brother Lawrence, and others.
The disciplines exist to put us in the presence of God so that He can change us. These disciplines feed our soul, give us fuel for this change that God wants to do in us.
There are two kinds of disciplines: Disciplines of engagement and disciplines of disengagement.
Disciplines of engagement are things you do. Like prayer, meditation, application, accountability, encouragement, giving, scripture study and memorization. We could more but these are the core, foundational ones that we need to walk through.
Disciplines of disengagement are things you remove to make space for God. This is stuff like solitude, fasting, simplicity, submission, silence, and giving.
Some disciplines could be both – like giving and prayer. The point is there are many disciplines to help us feed ourselves. It’s just a matter of learning them and practicing them.
Because a mature Christ-follower doesn’t walk around drinking from a sippee cup.