“You can read, you can pray, your can ask God questions.” What do you need me for? Stop being so codependent! Be a self-feeder! You’ve heard the old adage, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Well, I’m going to teach you how to fish, and then I want you to leave me alone!
Have you ever had those or similar sentiments with regard to Making Disciples? Particularly with those that need more grace, mercy, and patience than you can muster? I have. But, there have been many mentors in my life who have steered me in exactly that direction. “Be self-sufficient” they say. “Carve out your own path,” “Be your own person,” and finally, “if you want something done right, do it yourself.” These aren’t just catch phrases, they are embedded world philosophies that have, in many cases, infiltrated the church.
Rugged individualism is admired, especially when coupled with worldly success. But, is the Gospel Commission of Jesus, the command to make disciples, a command to make self-feeders? Doesn’t the Making of Disciples require consistent community? God exists in three persons. What makes us think we can grow and thrive spiritually as “our own person?” Does creating self-feeders create anti-community, anti-church, and anti-fellowship disciples?
Those poor featherless baby birds (congregants) who won’t leave the nest (the church) and are dependent on their mothers regurgitation (sermons), they grow fat and will NEVER fly. You’ve got to kick them out of the nest eventually, don’t you? As long as people look to the church to help them mature and be satisfied as a believer, they will remain baby Christians. And you will know when you’re with baby Christians, when all you hear is, “Feed me, take care of me, love me, hold me, teach me, me, me, me, me, me!” In a way, it’s our fault. We’ve grown accustomed as a church to filling the hopper with sheep chow and focused much of our energy on keeping that hopper and the sheep full.
The writer of Hebrews admonishes the people when he said, “In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!” This statement addresses both sides of the issue. Some ought to be teachers, and some need to go back to milk. Some need to be hunting instead of sucklings. A few questions:
Is a self-feeder the goal of biblical discipleship?
Does being a self-feeder excuse one from community and relationship?
What are the biblical and spiritual signs of a mature “self-feeder?”