Deserts and Swamps

Deserts and swamps – neither very useful, both have water issues. One doesn’t have enough, the other has too much in all the wrong places. Good luck growing anything, building anything, or having much of a life in either one of these miserable locales.


A little like relationships as they relate to discipleship. Some people are relational deserts – there’s just nothing going on. They don’t know anyone, so not surprisingly they don’t see many people coming to Christ. Maybe it’s not their gift, maybe they don’t enjoy it, maybe their lifestyle doesn’t provide them with opportunities to meet people, but it is most certainly keeping them from working out the Great Commission.


Others are relational swamps. A whole bunch of relationships, but there’s no movement. No one is flowing towards Christ, no one is being encountered with truth, no one’s life is being changed through their relationship. Swamp-people have hundreds of Facebook friends, mile-long cell phone directories, and a full schedule of social calls. But it’s all stagnant – somehow the whole muddle of community never turns into discipleship.


Both of these are real messes to find yourself in. Please don’t ask me how I know. But neither one of these are real ways to make disciples. Which way do you tend to drift? I’ve always naturally sunk into the desert, but now that I’m in China, I’ve found myself down in the bog more than I’d like to admit.


How to get out? Desert-dwellers have to find an oasis. You’re probably not going to turn into Mr. Win-Friends-And-Influence-People overnight, but start by admitting that you’re dried out and start looking for a way that you can begin to meet people. Join a club or league, host a barbecue for your neighbors, or watch the game with your coworkers instead of by yourself. Love your neighbor enough to know your neighbor.


Swamp-people got to drain. To drain a swamp, you dig some ditches, lay some pipe, and make sure it can’t get stopped up. The relational equivalent would probably be narrowing focus to those we most want to influence, showing them that we truly care about them, excessively investing in their lives, and challenging them personally and directly to a particular step in the right direction. Don’t just stagnate, make a tribe, be the chief, have a powwow, and go shoot some arrows at something.

One Comment on “Deserts and Swamps”

  1. Chris November 28, 2008 at 3:30 am #

    Great article, I think you’re on to something here. Discipleship takes commitment, hard work and opening one’s self to rejection. That makes it one of the more difficult things to “self-start”.

    If we will rely on Christ to develop in us His love toward our fellow man, things would more easily fall into place in this area.

    Good food for thought.


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