I believe there are there are certain people in life who always have something to share. They are wired to speak and give their opinions openly with pride. I would put myself into that category. I often find myself wanting to speak out on subjects that I am passionate about, and honestly, I can be passionate about almost anything. Some people just love that about me. On the other hand, I have also alienated, hurt, and put people off because I decided that they were going to hear what I had to say wether they wanted it or not.
Some days this feels like a curse, while other days it feels like a gift from God. Here is the thing about this gift: I still need to manage it. I have to be responsible for what comes out of my mouth and how I use that to impact those lives around me. My reality is that not everyone wants to hear what I have to say, and when these thoughts and opinions of mine are unrequested or unwelcome then I risk becoming a selfish jerk. In those moments it is more about me being heard than what is good for the people who are hearing it.
The difference between me being a selfish jerk and a good friend hinges on one thing: the relationship I have with the person I am speaking to. My ability to speak truth and challenge others is directly proportional to how much I invite them to be in my life. I've learned the hard way that the quickest way to turn someone away from Christianity is to try to tell them "how it is" without showing them who I am. True discipleship hinges on this principle: invite and THEN challenge. I must invite them into my life, to see my scars, to be vulnerable with me before I can ever challenge them to grow into their relationship with Christ. When we can begin to master this cycle of invite then challenge what happens is discipleship in its truest form. When I think about the perfect balance of this cycle I think about my mentor. Charles Causey is a chaplain in the Army, and when I went to work for him he changed my life. Every day he invited me into his office and listened, then after several weeks of this he challenged me to do more. He challenged me to be in the Word, and to be a better man. He invested in me first, then grew the investment. I am where I am today because of his investment in my life.
When I think of discipleship I think of this process; invest then challenge.
Who do you need to invite into your life? What do you need to do to ensure you aren't being a selfish jerk? Who is challenging you in your own life?