And now we get to steps three and four:
Live the life.
And share it.
That's the last two steps.
Live the life. You know... if you are married, you live like a married person... You don't take your ring off and flirt with other people. You don't join single chat rooms. You don't stay gone for extended periods of time without letting your spouse know where you are... that type of thing.
Instead, you come home at night to the same house and the same partner. You work with them, take note of what pleases them, and love them. More than that, you identify with them. "My husband..." "My wife..." "My Savior..." Oh, but wait...I'm getting ahead of myself...
Anyway, it's the same thing if you have a job: you conduct yourself during business hours (and often during non-business hours) in keeping with that profession. You live your job by dressing, speaking, and working according to company rules and guidelines.
Our son is a personal trainer and one day, as I was talking to a lady he trains, she looked at me and said, "The proof is in the pudding. When I looked at your son, I thought: he knows what he is doing." She wanted to train with him because he obviously works out and looks the part.
Another example: my sweet sister-in-law tried a new hairdresser (a healthy young woman) who is bald. She said that the woman's baldness didn't inspire confidence in her skills somehow, explaining that it was like an oxymoron to her. The bottom line is that she'll be finding a new hairdresser :)
Living the life simply means living out what you profess to believe and value. And that really comes back to the Word. If you know what God values and you let His thinking saturate your mind, your thoughts (which are lower than God's) will begin to change and your image (which is much lower than God's) will begin to conform to His. (Romans 12:1-2) You'll begin to think His thoughts after Him and the Holy Spirit will begin to change your conduct as you yield to Him.
And then the fourth and final step will follow - sharing your lifestyle and the rationale behind it with others.
I am an overweight, geriatric woman. I hate exercising. Seriously.
But I'm in the gym now almost every day.
Why? Because I live in a house with a gym rat, a personal trainer, an advocate of exercise and healthy dieting. (He hasn't convinced me about the diet yet but he does have me on vitamins...)
Our son isn't real outgoing and maybe it was hard for him to broach the subject of going to the gym with his overweight, sedentary, bookish mom. But he did it. Again and again. Why? Because he believes in it. Because he has seen what this lifestyle is doing for him.
As Christians we have an even better reason for sharing our lifestyle and beliefs with others: Jesus commanded it. He told His followers to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:19). Paul wrote in II Timothy 2:2 that we are to bring in people so they can raise their hand, get saved, and be added to the church roster...
Oh, wait.. No that's not right.
Paul actually said to learn the Scriptures and then find someone who has the potential to lead others and teach them, invest in them, disciple them... So that they can disciple others.
For our son to disciple me in physical training, he talks to me about it and he stands with me while I'm at the gym - directing me from this machine to that, adjusting the weights (to zilch... ) to accommodate my current weakness, explaining the benefits of each form of exercise, and encouraging me - "Keep your back straight... perfect!" "How does that feel?" "Let's don't do everything today since you don't feel well... Let's just keep it light..." "Tomorrow we'll..."
At times I feel like I must be an embarrassment to him but when I apologize for being so out of shape, he just says, "Mom, you are in better shape than most of the others out there driving by simply because you are in here and you are trying..." He's extremely fit but he never makes me feel bad because I'm not - he just takes me where I am and works with me, reminding me that in the end it will be worth it.
In order to do all this with me, he schedules time to train me - he makes it happen. Evenings, afternoons - whenever we can work it in. (Neither of us is a morning person so that's basically out. However, I have seen him get up daily at 4 a.m. in order to train someone at 5, fitting his schedule to theirs. I would say that is living the life...).
And I wonder: are we making discipleship happen?
Without that fourth element, the other three are good but not complete.
Dawson Trotman used to ask people: who will be in Heaven because of you?
It's a good question to consider at the beginning of 2015. May we all use our time wisely so that this time next year we'll have an answer that pleases us as well as our Savior.