Custom Discipleship

Most things that have the label of “custom” are not truly customized. It usually just means that you can pick from a variety of options the one that fits best with what you need. But something truly customized means it is designed from the ground up to fit a particular need; therefore there is nothing else like it, but rather it is uniquely crafted to fulfill a singular purpose.

Because I like woodworking, I also love custom-designing a project to fit a particular place or fulfill a certain function. I’m not opposed to buying furniture, if I can find something decently constructed that fits what I need, but when I can’t find anything for a particular purpose, I thoroughly enjoy creating a design and then building a piece of furniture to fit it.

When it comes to discipleship, to the process by which God forms our hearts more and more into His likeness, I believe God customizes that process for each one of us. God does not mass-produce identical disciples. Nor does He merely pick from a handful of tried-and-true methods and say “This one should be close enough for you.” Rather, He custom-designs a process that is perfectly suited for the specific needs and struggles and strengths of each of His children.

What does that mean in real life? It means that it is no accident that you are in the family where God has placed you. It means there is a purpose for the struggles you have faced growing up. It means that the person you find most annoying keeps showing up for a reason. It means the personality and gifts and experiences you’ve been given are not random or meaningless. It means that God is intentionally using all of those things to shape you further into the image of His Son.

He knows your deepest fears. He knows your greatest weaknesses. He knows you better than you know yourself. And because He knows you, He then designs circumstances and relationships and opportunities and struggles that reveal the sin in your heart and challenge your areas of weakness. He does that, not to punish you or shame you, but to grow you and prepare you for the particular mission and purpose that He has designed you for. That is discipleship…a discipleship that is customized perfectly to your individual needs and purpose. So rather than complaining about your family or your struggles or that annoying person in your life, receive it as the precious gift that it is: God’s careful, intentional, customized plan to form your heart to be more like His.

Dan Christian