I remember one of the first spiritual mentors that I ever had. We spent a lot of time together diving into scripture and creating a mutual relational bond. At the outset of our discipling relationship, my mentor made a comment to me that never really sat well, and still doesn't today. "Stick with me Jason and I will turn you into a better version of me." I never really understood what he meant until later on in life. As I began to make choices that were different than his suggested path or direction, friction arose in our relationship. It was during these contentious moments that I rediscovered the biblical truth of who the target is in the mission of discipleship.
The target is and has always been Jesus in the process of discipleship. We are called to help move people towards Jesus, not to have them become 2.0 versions of us. As a pastor and a parent, I find this to be one of the most challenging parts of my role. It's easy to have my children or other youth play the copy-cat game..."do what I do." There is some power in this particular learning discipline, but if the conversation and the discipleship stays at this level, I may unintentionally disciple youth and even my own kids to be like me instead of being like Jesus.
You know what made Nike so powerful in the 90s? There campaign slogan of be like Mike. Anyone who knew anything about basketball knew that Michael Jordan was one of the most gifted, awe-inspiring players of his generation. Parents would shell out hundreds of dollars for shoes that would help their kids falsely nurture the thought of becoming the next big thing in the minds of children. I know my Nike shoes didn't help me get to the NBA!!
Nike knew who their target was and how they could inspire their audience to embrace their vision of the basketball shoe. My question to all of us is do we know who our target is in the task of discipleship? Are we inspiring people to become like Jesus, or are we shaping them to be like us?
I hope my kids see that Jesus is the best example of a person to model one's life after. I'd hate for them to wake up one day and simply be me version 2.0.