Equipping God's People to Create Missional Culture

Discipleship XIV

Follow Me as I follow Christ - Photo by Firefigher with a Camera

Follow Me as I follow Christ - Photo by Firefigher with a Camera

In this series of posts, I am sharing some short thoughts from each chapter of Dallas Willard’s book The Great Omission and then some brief personal reflections.

Chapter Thirteen: Christ-Centered Piety
Willard continues to beat the drum that if we want to experience transformation, we must use God’s grace, not to try harder, but train wiser through the spiritual disciplines with as Christ as our teacher, for this is Christ-centered piety.

My Reflections

I think that the spiritual disciplines are an important part of our training to become more like Christ, though I think in the West we tend to over emphasize the individual approach and under emphasize the communal approach. When it comes to the spiritual disciplines, you might appreciate the series I wrote entitled Developing a Rhythm of Life. In that series I quote Marjorie Thompson’s definition of a rule or rhythm of life, it “is a pattern of spiritual disciplines that provides structure and direction for growth in holiness. When we speak of patterns in our life, we mean attitudes, behaviors, or elements that are routine, repeated, regular. Indeed, the Latin term for “rule” is regula, from which our words regular and regulate derive.”

6 Responses to Discipleship XIV

  1. Kerry Whalen says:

    I think if following a “rule” (ie consciously praying 5 times a day, having a morning Bible reading, or whatever you choose) helps you to live consciously with and for God, and keeps your spirit open to where He is leading you, then that is a good thing (so I’m not knocking spiritual disciplines where they help people) but I don’t see Jesus in the Gospels following any “rule”. He withdrew to pray when He needed to. He fasted – once (for a very long time!!) that we know of. He walked constantly with God, and followed the leading of God’s Spirit in everything.

    I think there can be a danger in pursuing particular disciplines, that we see achieving the discipline as an end, and are condemned if we do not achieve it. The end we pursue (& the means will be as varied as people are!) is walking with God – all the time! If we find we have lost that connection, there is grace available & we need only to shift our attention back – He is there! If a particular discipline helps you to experience Him more fully, do it! But if you cannot, or do not, He is still there! For me, the most helpful thing at times, has been to simply remember this and trust Him.

  2. jrwoodward says:


    Thanks for your thoughts. You share some good things. I think that Jesus probably did have a rhythm to his life, like most Jews did in his day and I would bet he engaged the spiritual disciples regularly. I don’t think the gospels were written to give us his rule or rhythm of life, but without the spiritual disciplines, I don’t think he would have stayed close with the Father. I agree the disciplines aren’t an end in themselves but when we trust in God’s promises and trust Christ, we are called to engage. Check out Peter’s thoughts on this in II Peter 1:3-11.

  3. Kerry Whalen says:

    Thanks for this, JR,

    My brother and I have been tussling over this in conversation for a while. I agree with you and with him, that we need some kind of “structure” to our lives in order to keep us connected with God. But (as you already said) the structure is not the important thing – it is the life of God that is important!! What this structure looks like in individual lives, or particular church gatherings will be as different as the context it is found in.

    I am still wrestling with this one on a personal level. I’m a bit of an “ADD” girl, and rigid daily routines are something I have never been able to do. So “discipline” for me, has become more a habit of checking to see I am still following. I think, read, pray. I try to keep the awareness of God with me always (I think that is “praying without ceasing”)- but of course life gets busy and I often find I have drifted & need to “get back”. I read the Bible deeply – but slowly. Often the same passage many times. Not every day – but if I “check” (or maybe the Spirit “checks” me!) & find I am following ideas without checking them in Scripture – I take myself back there & try to immerse myself for a while. Lately I have been challenged about how I prioritise people against the other demands on my time – so I am making a conscious decision to put the needs of people around me first; treating them with the value God places on them. I guess these are “disciplines” that I am practicing – but it might look a bit different to what works for many other people.

    I read the passage in 2 Peter, & to me it is a kind of “checklist”. Are these qualities growing in your life? Is this the direction your life is moving in? If not, you are ineffective and the life of God is not growing in you. It doesn’t look like the checklist I learned as a child: are you reading your Bible and praying every day? It isn’t about activities – it’s about the life growing within you!

    Thanks for including me in the conversation!

  4. JR Woodward says:


    I think you have put it well and what you describe to me strikes a good balance. It’s like you know the healthy rhythms that you need for your life, but you aren’t using them as a check list of daily duties, but rhythms that give you life. And when life gets too crazy and busy and you are off your rhythms in general, you know its time to engage them again. I think this is a great balance of having rhythms in life without losing spontaneity or approaching the disciplines as drudgery. For me, if a certain rhythm of life no longer brings life, we need to engage in another rhythm.

    Love your thoughts here. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Arlene says:

    Dang…you keep on pushing me to go deeper…and yes I am convicted by my attitude…”under emphasize the communal approach”..I should be in China by now with all this digging deeper…yep the gals and I need to talk about together what can we go deeper in …relying on God’s grace as we plunge forward!!…yep I just might appreciate the series above…

  6. Pingback: The Discipleship Series - Reflections from The Great Omission by Dallas Willard | JR Woodward

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.