For most new disciples, following Jesus inspires changes in habits and attitudes as we conform ourselves to Christ. If you are meeting with someone regularly to establish them in their discipleship, you may find these tips for motivating change helpful in your conversations. Keep in mind that these strategies presume a relationship of mutual trust and friendship.
- Prompt the person to articulate a goal. Ask them to articulate one way they want to move forward in their life with Christ.
- Ask them to identify obstacles to accomplishing this goal. It probably isn’t the first time they’ve thought about this goal. Why haven’t they followed through with it yet? What’s holding them back? Is it a scheduling issue, a lack of clarity, a fear or temptation, etc.? Without a plan to address it, whatever stood in their way in the past is likely to do so this time as well.
- Help them create a realistic plan: how can they reach this goal in a specific, achievable way? Help them adjust the goal to be a SMART goal (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound). Encourage them to set short-term benchmarks: people need to experience “quick wins” to stay motivated, at least at first. Don’t let their goals be too lofty or you’ll both get discouraged. Faithfulness to small steps builds momentum towards larger strides.
- Ask how you can help the person. What support and/or accountability do they desire? Perhaps a text message or a call at a certain time? Perhaps to accomplish part of the goal together sometime soon? Do they need more information, or to connect with someone else?
- Always be generous in affirmation, encouragement and prayer for this person.
You won’t want to use these steps at each and every meeting. Just bear them in mind as your considering the overall progress of your one-on-ones. Most people will need to adjust their goals and strategies many times as they engage in trial and error. It’s all part of the process. Mentoring another in discipleship isn’t about mastering all the details of the journey; it’s about journeying together. Don’t be the annoying traveling companion thumping the itinerary. Enjoy the journey, and help them enjoy it too!