By Natalie Wiebelhaus
What does it mean to be a disciple? That is a question that college students from The Rock-UNL spent time unpacking and wrestling with for eight weeks this past summer during Summer Leadership Training (SLT). Participants worked through the classic work by William MacDonald, True Discipleship, as they considered what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.
If you were to try to define SLT, you might describe it as a kind of boot camp for your soul. College students and young adults are invited to participate each summer and go deeper in their faith and in their relationships with their Small Groups. Every year looks a little bit different, but the investment of time and money is always worth it.
Each summer, those involved in the program focus on a different theme. This year, the theme of Discipleship proved to be rich and encouraging. Pastors from around the country came and spoke on topics ranging from Discipleship Attitudes to Discipleship Lies to Martyrdom. Everyone was challenged to count the cost, go all in, and go to the next level in their devotion to following God.
Below, several students share some of the most crucial things they felt they learned during the program:
“As a disciple, I need to remember that I have a powerful and convincing God and message. The Gospel in itself is really powerful, and it can do the work on its own. All I have to do is open my mouth, have a deep concern for the lost, be truthful, and loving. It may cost me a lot, but there are rewards for those that hear it and for me, too. We all have obstacles and things that could be distracting, but if my heart is captivated by these things, then my inner man won’t really know God. How can I talk about him with just head knowledge? It will only go a short while.
It can’t be an act, or I can’t be deluded. I have to be all in. I am not giving God a chance; I am giving him my all. This gives all the glory back to God, and it will echo into eternity.”
“Being a true disciple of Jesus means counting the costs: the things that you will have to sacrifice in order to live your life for him and choosing to follow him despite those costs. Along with that, we must also take a stance to not leave the door open for those things that we give up when we make the decision to truly pursue Jesus, otherwise there will be no change and you will go back to the way you once were.”
“This summer God’s been showing me the importance of glorifying him in my heart. So I’ve been learning how to enjoy God in solitude, when I’m by myself, in silence and stillness. To be disciplined enough to prioritize one on one time with the Lord besides my daily quiet time and prayer. I’m learning what it looks like to allow God to hold me. He wants my heart to know and love and enjoy him more than my meager attempts to serve him.”
“The cost of being a disciple is large. You could lose your comfort, your friends, your possessions, even your life. But the reward of Jesus, and the rewards he gives us are so much greater, that the cost seems like nothing in the end. And Jesus told us to go and make disciples of all nations, teaching them to obey all that He commanded us.”
If you were not able to participate in SLT this year, we invite you to read True Discipleship and check out some of the recorded teachings. They will challenge and encourage you.
To listen to the SLT teachings, click here.
“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in Him, ‘If you abide in my Word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’” – John 8:31-32 (ESV)