Muffins, Black Belts, & Discipleship

My two younger sons have just starting taking karate.  One of their instructors is Mrs. Muffin, or “Sensei Muffin.”  When they starting telling me about her, I thought it was a joke.  In fact, I started teasing them about Sensei Apple Pie and Sensei Cupcake.  But when I went to my first visit, I met Sensei Muffin.  She was a typical senior adult with glasses.  You might be inclined to help her across the street.  But I soon discovered that Sensei Muffin is a 3rd degree black belt.  Basically, this means that she could easily kill me with her bare hands.  I was fascinated that this little lady could be an elite, trained expert in martial arts.  But as I started watching karate practice every week with my boys, I began to realize that to make it in karate, you must have hundreds of hours of one-on-one and small group training.  Mrs. Muffin must have started out just like my nine-year-old son…. learning one move at a time from those above her.  I saw that all the students with higher belts are trained to be teachers.    There are always plenty of older and wiser people willing to teach those below them what they need to know for the next belt.     The student teachers know that in order to make it to black belt, you must teach.  They are committed to spending time with the students with lower degree belts.  They watch them closely.  They show them exactly what to do, one step at a time, and they do it over and over again.  When the students do it wrong, they correct their mistakes and help them get it right.  Sensei is a Japanese word that means “person born before another.”  In general, it means “master” or “teacher.” Jesus gave us the Great Commission to go make disciples.  He calls all Christians to be teachers.  That does not mean you have to get up in front of hundreds of people and preach.  If you have asked Jesus Christ into your heart, you are called to reproduce yourself.  Make sure you are being intentional in your own growth as a disciple.  Pray about the person that God puts in your path to invest in.  If that person that is open, available, and teachable, spend time with them sharing the teachings of Jesus Christ.  If you are a parent, start with your children.  Answer their questions.  Get into Bible study together.  Walk them through the basics of Christianity.  Help them.  Encourage them.  Eat plenty of meals together.  Do like sensei a does with a student.  Watch them closely.  Spend lots of time together.  Show them exactly what to do, one step at a time, and do it over and over again.   When your disciple struggles, help them correct mistakes and help them get it right.  When you don’t have the answer or the Biblical knowledge, admit that you do not know and go get it.  Be humble and transparent.


Our focus must be on discipleship if we are going to see world change.  Jesus calls us to be disciple makers.  I am so excited to see how churches are committing to discipleship and how the change is happening.  If you have a success story of one-on-one discipleship, share it with others to encourage kingdom ministry.  Discipleship must be sustainable, reproducible, and effective.  You do not have to have a building, money, or a seminary degree to make disciples.  If Sensei Muffin can be a black belt, certainly I – with the Lord’s help – can follow the Great Commission from Jesus to make disciples. These are just my thoughts for the day.Yours truly, Sensei Cupcake.


Invest in the few, change the world

Dave Marshall

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