The simplest definition of a disciple that I can think of is this: someone who is taking Jesus’ command to love God heart, soul, mind, and strength seriously. In order to do that we need to first identify our root type and nurture it. To experience and love God in the way we do is a gift and we should celebrate it! What I love about Jesus’ command, however, is that it pushes us beyond the borders of what comes naturally. One of the four loves will come naturally to us—that isn’t the problem. The problem comes when we become satisfied with living out of our root type and miss out on the adventure of discovering the greatness of God as we learn to love Him in more holistic ways.
It is difficult for Heart types to conduct a systematic study of the Bible, but at some point this type needs to take up this challenge so that they learn to love God with their mind as well as their heart. Likewise, it’s not easy for Strength types to participate in contemplative practices, but discipleship demands that such a challenge be attempted. After all, a root is supposed to nurture something greater than itself, and our root type is there to be the starting point from which our love for God can become more robust and expansive.
So how do we put all of this together into a plan for daily discipleship? Three steps are necessary:
1. Do one activity every day that strengthens your root type. Whatever your type, nurture it daily by doing an activity that strengthens your personal love language with God.
2. Do one activity every week that falls within a different type. For example, if you’re a Strength type choose one Heart, Soul, and Mind activity for the week. It doesn’t have to be something huge or radical, but you should set a goal to do one activity each week that stretches you beyond your comfort zone.
3. As you grow in loving God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength, look for ways to extend that love into your relationships with others. Jesus said the second most important thing is to love your neighbour as yourself, and out of our experience and understanding of God’s love, our lives will overflow with compassion, care, and justice for others.
I use these steps on a weekly basis. At the beginning of each week I sit down and think about how I’d like to try to stretch myself in loving God heart, soul, mind, and strength. I take the time to set a goal for myself within each type. For example, last week I came up with the following plan:
Heart: Set aside some time to connect with a friend I haven’t talked to in a while. Really listen and try to discern God’s movements in his life. Offer encouragement and support.
Soul: Journal once this week on something God seems to be challenging me with.
Mind: Complete my study on Colossians this week and take notes on anything that stands out.
Strength: Help the set-up team on Sunday morning this week at church.
As you can see, in each area I’ve tried to identify one thing that I could do within the next week that would stretch me beyond my preferred love language. Some weeks I come up with more than one thing for each area, but I try not to worry about quantity; I just try to think about one way I can learn to grow in my love for God heart, soul, mind, and strength.