Healthy Abiding

Jason Hinton | Executive Pastor | Family Church - West Monroe, LA

According to any personality test I have ever taken; I always scored in the 98th percentile of extroverts. Even before my relationship with Christ, being around others left me energized and felt life giving.

In my walk with Christ over the years I am learning the value of relationships; especially within the context of disciple making. Some of the most impactful and profound are those that proved to challenge and grow my ability to make disciples. Let me explain and start off with the obvious. My relationship with Christ is paramount. As I abide in Him, He abides in me. If I spend appropriate time in proximity to Christ through prayer (me talking to Him), quiet (me listening to Him), and studying the Word (me getting to know Him) Christ has been consistently faithful to develop in me the ability to be the disciple-maker He saved me to be (my redemptive purpose).

Early in my disciple-making journey, I would not have considered how directly other relationships in my life affected my ability to make disciples. My walk with Christ seemed the obvious to help me grow. However, I have come to discover that these other abiding relationships have a huge impact on my ability to be effective as a disciple who makes disciples.

Three truths I have discovered about abiding relationships that have helped me become a better disciple-maker.

Abiding relationships bring healing.

As earlier stated, most of the time people energize me and bring me life. So by nature of my calling as a shepherd and my wiring from God, I am always around a lot of people. Critically I have learned only a handful of intimate relationships with a certain number of those people lead to my own

relational healing. Commonly as a pastor one can have so many ‘relationships’ that we sometimes forgo developing relationships that foster true authenticity, transparency and vulnerability. I am convinced this is one of the biggest disconnects in disciple-making today.

James 5:16 NLT says it this way…

“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”

While I believe the healing here can refer to physical healing I believe it also refers to spiritual healing. Light expels darkness, therefore when I expose the darkness in my life to God, He is faithful to forgive, but when I expose the darkness to another person I believe healing from that darkness can happen because it isn’t hidden any longer.

I would find myself struggling over and over with the same sins, I would ask God to forgive me, but until I exercised the courage to confess temptations, struggles, and sins with those close personal relationships helped me find victory Having relationships where I can be completely honest with my thoughts, sins, and struggles allows me to be healthy, spiritually and emotionally which in turn postures me in humility and helps me to be able to point others to Christ.

Abiding relationships encourage.

We all need encouragement from time to time. I am generally positive and see the glass half full most of the time. My wife refers to it as my toxic positivity. But I even find myself at places in life where I have a tough time having hope. Let’s face it when we make the decision to follow Christ it’s not instantly cupcakes and rainbows. It is a constant uphill journey for the remainder of our time here on earth.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 reminds us…

“So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.”

Having abiding relationships in my life that continue to encourage and build me up in turn help me to be an encouragement and builder of others on their journey.

Abiding relationships set an example.

I am convinced a deep desire of everyone is to really “know” someone and to be really “known” by someone, whether they are aware of it or not. But we live in a world that screams the exact opposite.

As we read in the gospels, Jesus’ message was encapsulated in his method. He exemplified everything we need to know about disciple-making.

When I am intentional in my relationship with my wife, my children, and others, it always tends to produce good fruit. Good fruit tends to be attractive to the onlooker. So as I abide in relationships with others I am naturally exemplifying to others the value, necessity, and fruitfulness of biblical relationships.

John 13:34,35 Jesus gives this New Commandment…

“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

As I grow in my understanding that relationships are the key to disciple-making, the more I value and invest in those relationships. First in my relationship with Christ as I am following Him, and second the relationships God entrusted me with in my life.

Jason Hinton
Executive Pastor
Family Church
West Monroe, LA