Iron Sharpens Iron

Two parts of my life recently worked together to give me a helpful reminder, and I am passing it on to you hoping it means something to you as well.

Yesterday was the last day our worship leader, Matt Black, was with us at Asbury. He is putting more of his time and energy into his family and that sometimes calls for making changes in other areas of life. I applaud his willingness to step away from something he loves to give the time to his family in a way only a dad can do. But, at the same time, I’ll miss working with him in this crazy life we call church ministry.

In his remarks to the church at the end of the service Matt echoed what I had just mentioned – we had some moments together where we didn’t see eye-to-eye. We had some challenging discussions. With our two personalities it was bound to happen. But Matt went on to talk about how we both benefited from those times. And I agree, we did. He quoted Proverbs 27:17:

As iron sharpens iron,
so one person sharpens another.

Those times of wrestling through our differing viewpoints did make me sharper and helped me become a better pastor. My sense of worship was made stronger and more focused. I have great love and appreciation for Matt Black and I will miss his presence on Sunday mornings.

As I pondered on that moment yesterday, I also begin to think of conversations happening across the United Methodist Church. Through face-to-face encounters and in Facebook groups pastors and leaders in the church are talking about discipleship. There is a growing interest in getting more intentional about discipling others in the way of Jesus. It’s a wonderful time of struggle and renewal that I believe will bear much fruit for the Kingdom of God.

What these conversations and studies always seem to come back to in regard to discipling one another is just that – we disciple one another. Disciple-making is not a program of the church. There is no formula for making a disciple. Churches can’t make disciples, only those who are disciples (truly and deeply spiritually engaged disciples) can make other disciples. As a church we can encourage this work. As a pastor I can help build bridges from the congregation at large to the smaller discipling groups connected with the church. But ultimately, it is one disciple that helps make another – and that second one will contribute back to the first one along the way.

The proverb stands – “iron sharpens iron.” One person helps another person live into the greater life as a follower of Jesus Christ. That’s why our connection to others matters. That’s why going to worship on Sunday is not enough. That’s why developing spiritual friendships is so very important.

The good news for me is I have others in my life who do what Matt often did. In just a short while I will be having lunch with one of them. My hope is to help sharpen him as I already know he will be sharpening me.

Who do you have in your life that is a close brother or sister in Christ who is helping you to grow in your life as a disciple of Jesus Christ?
Who do you have in your life that challenges you?
Who do you have in your life that looks to you to challenge them?
Where is your iron sharpening someone else’s?
How are you actively working to disciple others?

If you can’t answer those questions I encourage you to pray that God would change that – and then keep your eyes open to where God leads you. If you want to be “sharp” these questions are not just important, they are necessary.

Holy high-five to you,
Mike

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