Ron Rolheiser’s provides a unique perspective on our journey with Christ by breaking it up into three distinct phases. They are:
Essential discipleship – The struggle to get our lives together. This is when we are struggling to figure out who we are. As my friend/mentor, Leighton Ford said recently. “We can’t give ourselves away until we know who we are.”
Generative discipleship – The struggle to give our lives away. “How do I give my life away more deeply, more generously, and more meaningfully?”
Radical discipleship – The struggle to give our deaths away. There comes a point in our lives when the question becomes: “How can I now live so that my death will be an blessing for my family, my church, and the world?” We are meant to leave this planet in such a way that our diminishment and death is our final, and perhaps greatest, gift to the world.
Three points resonate with me.
- Each phase has its’ own work. Each phase is a “struggle.”
- We need mentors and guides to shepherd us through each phase. This is hard work. Afterwards, we can guide others.
- Giving our deaths away is a critical discipleship phase that few have pondered deeply. I think Billy Graham models this well in his recent book, Nearing Home: Life, Faith and Finishing Well, as he reflects on his own death. He wrote it at age 93! This is an essential read for all young leaders in order to keep the long-view before them.
Where are you in these there phases and what is your “struggle” work before you?