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Does Solitude Come Before Discipleship or Vice Versa? It's a Matter of Perspective

I write this blog primarily for leaders. When I’m writing, I’m thinking about leaders and I try to speak to the hearts of leaders. So sometimes I might say something that can be misconstrued if read from a different perceptive than my target audience. This just happened today.

I posted a brief excerpt from my November 6 blog, “Solitude Before Community” on the new Discipleship Network site from NavPress. The blog on that site, along with the corresponding responses can be found here. In that excerpted Discipleship Network blog, I said,

It seems to me that in today’s church culture, we put everything else in front of solitude. Some put discipleship first. They say it all starts here. That we have to teach people how to grow and serve and share their faith….

Well, that drew the attention of at least one member of this discipleship network! He responded, in part,

How do we expect people to practice solitude without teaching them…or telling them they should practice it? Am I being silly here? … [W]hen I think of discipleship I am thinking that hands on teaching of what it means to be Christian and how to pursue Christlikeness. Is the practice of solitude important? Yes it is. Should it be taught. Yes. But it cannot be practiced without being taught. So I think discipleship comes first, or concurrently if you want to look at it that way….

I totally agree with him! Unfortunately, I did not differentiate my audience in that post, so please let me do so here. As leaders, our first priority is to spend time with God, and we need to get away with him in solitude, like Jesus often did, to accomplish this.
As leaders, our teaching, discipling, mentoring, evangelizing, serving … all come from the overflow of our hearts that primarily comes from time spent with the Father.
Yes, by all means let’s teach people how to have an intimate relationship with God, how to spend time alone with him as well as in community. But as leaders, let’s make sure we’re modeling that ourselves first.

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Michael C. Mack founded SmallGroups.com in 1995 and served as a small-groups minister for more than 20 years in several churches. He is a writer, editor, trainer, and consultant in the areas of small groups, leadership, and discipleship. He is the author of more than 25 books and small group studies, including his latest, World's Greatest Small Group (pub. January, 2017). He regularly blogs on his ministry website at SmallGroupLeadership.com. His family is a small group that includes his wife Heidi, their four children, and their dog, Lainey. Mike is also an avid mountain biker.