Five years ago, back when I first started this blog, our family had just moved out of “seminary housing” into “the real world.” We bought a house nearby, and with that purchase came the joys and pains of owning a house again, including lawn maintenance. This is one of the first post that I wrote on the topic of making disciples. It was called “Discipleship and a lawn mower.” (The 12 yr-old son in the story below is not 17.)
Last week, we moved from seminary housing to an actual house. We had lived in the seminary duplex for 3 1/2 years. Don’t misunderstand me, the duplex was a good place to live. But our family had outgrown it long ago. Once we decided to stay at Southeastern for a few more years, we also decided to begin looking for houses.
Yesterday, I mowed the lawn at the new house – the first time I had done yard work in 3 1/2 years because the seminary pays a company to cut the grass… occasionally. (Now, it is true that some residents keep a lawn mower in order to cut the grass when it gets too high. We just waited out the grass cutters.) Yesterday was another first for our family as well. Jeremy (my 12 year old son) used a lawn mower for the first time. He was too young to use a lawn mower before we moved to North Carolina. And, as I stated above, he had no reason to use one until we moved into this house.
I taught him how to start the mower with the pull cord and how to overlap a little so he didn’t miss anything. I taught him how to turn corners with a mower that preferred to go straight. I taught him how to watch for rocks and sticks and other things that don’t mix well with lawn mowers.
As I was watching him push the mower, I began to think about discipleship. Today, discipleship is often thought of as a class or book. But, discipleship should be more like learning to cut grass. I had to show Jeremy how to do it, I couldn’t just talk to him about it. Also, I could not teach him from a distance – it took face-to-face communication and a relationship. It also takes patience and perseverance and endurance. Jeremy only cut about a quarter of our grass yesterday. Next time, I’ll watch him again, give him more pointers, show him a few others things, and perhaps ask him to cut a larger section of the yard. Eventually, he will be mowing the lawn by himself, but only after much help and practice. This is discipleship.
Actually, even mowing the lawn is discipleship. I’m teaching Jeremy how to care for his house and family once he is married. Somehow, mowing the lawn didn’t seem as tedious as the last time.