Real Life: A Christianity Worth Living Out by James Choung

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I’ll admit that I was not sure whether I would like this book. This is a book on discipleship which is written as a story. There has been a number of such books written like this, most notably The Five Dysfunctions of A Team and Leadership – Self Deception. I have always thought how brave such authors are – not only have you to get across your ‘thesis’ but you have the added pressure of creativity which fictional writers wrestle with.

Of course, this is not designed to be a page turning novel, but Choung does a great job of using the genre of story telling to frame his view of discipleship. The story revolves around Stephen, a guy who trying to make it at work, which means he stays late and works longs hours, even when his boss goes home. And yet he is a christians. And one day, a young guy on Stephens team at work (Jared) realizes Stephen is a Christian and gets very excited and asks Stephen to disciple him. The novel is the out working of that request. Stephen has no idea HOW to do this and it is soon apparent that after the first couple of lunch meetings with Jared that Stephen is WAY out of his depth. So he seeks out one of his friends to help him.

The story unpacks the process and varying degrees of what discipleship is how the how it unfolds in someones life. Yet there were a number of things that really spoke to me. The first thing was that Stephen, despite being out of his depth, knew that he should be willing to disciple someone and so, even though he was out of his depth, and had no idea what to do, he said YES I WILL, and, sought out help. In other words, we should not be afraid to disciple others despite our own inadequacies. In fact, and this is the second thing that spoke to me, although Stephen was the ‘older’ ‘mature’ christian, he too was growing and learning as he meet with Jared. Being a mentor does not mean you have it all together. Mentors should, and indeed NEED to grow in the process. And thirdly, Choung very cleverly shows us that the process of being a mentor, or discipling someone, does not just change the one being discipled, but it changes the one doing the discipling. Through the process Stephen beings to see clearly some of the issues in his own life and this leads to Stephen making a radical decision.

As I said, I was not sure I would like this book, but by the end, I had enjoyed it. No, this is not the typical book on how to disciple, with the logical, linear arguments and points, backed up with many biblical passages. Yes, this will appeal to those who function more in the creativity aspect of their brain. But that said, anyone who picks this up will benefit from it, and enjoy in the process.

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