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the “suck zone”

One of the best scenes in the 90’s movie classic “TWISTER”, is when Dusty (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is explaining to “an innocent, but soon to be wigged out of her ever-loving mind” Melissa, about the “suck zone” of a nearing tornado.  Of course, Hoffman plays the part perfectly, and Melissa sits bewildered as Dusty describes the natural vacuum of a tornado when it is tearing up the countryside.  It’s very funny, but I’ve been thinking about the “suck zone” in reference to mentoring and discipleship.

One of the basic truths we know about the word “El Shaddai” (a Hebrew name that describes one of the relational function’s of God), is that He is provider.  It also means “the many breasted one”.   I figure that most of my readers are older than 13 years of age, so I am willing to be moved to the beautiful imagery of a newly born infant naturally sucking for nourishment from the mother’s breast.  As that newborn “latches on” its mother, a signal is conveyed to her body to begin producing milk, thus meeting the baby’s nutritional need.  No, I am not a lactation consultant and the point is not to weigh the value of breast-feeding verses bottle-feeding.  The point is, that more milk comes, more nourishment arrives and avails itself to the baby, in conjunction with the baby’s pull and suck for more milk.  I’ve noticed that mentoring and discipleship works a lot like that!  The transfer can only happen as long as the spiritual son or daughters  commit themselves to enter the “suck zone”.  There has to be a spiritual hunger and desire to pull on the mentor to get the proper nourishment.

Ever noticed that when Jesus asked Peter, James, Andrew and John to “follow me” that he didn’t beg them.  Jesus never demanded allegiance or devotion.  He didn’t phone them, text them, email them, stalk them or scurry around them all the time, trying to get them to pay attention.  Something inside of the disciples told them that being with Him had purpose to their destiny.  Of course they saw some crazy things, but the bulk of their discipleship training was  (OJT) on the job training.  They were with Him.  They chilled with Him.  Walked with Him.  Ministered with Him.  He answered their questions, often scratched His head about how clueless they were, but always gave them the truth.  He talked to them about life, about another way to think and live.  It was not a roaming seminary where He taught theological constructs.  It was all about how to do life.  The greatest thing they saw is how He loved and that He required them to love each other.  I imagine they all felt important and significant around Him; even those who would betray and use that inside communion with Him as leverage for dark works.

I hear lots of talk about spiritual sons and daughters and their love for spiritual parents.  I have young men and women who dial into Patti and I, all the time for help.  We are glad to do it and it is a huge part of what we do in our ministry.  But, the only way it works healthily, is for our spiritual kids to “suck and pull” for what they need.  We cannot chase grown men and women for our place in their life.  We have to wait.  Once, they go to the “suck zone”we can freely and willingly offer what we can to help in their growth.

I sat with a young man this week, to talk about helping him work through some tough life issues.  He was told about some reading I wanted him to do and some paths I hoped we would venture down together in his personal deliverance and healing.  I asked him, “What percentage of this mentoring relationship do you see  that you are responsible for?  He said, “I’ve always thought it was like, 50% me and 50% you?”  He raised his eyebrows when he heard me tell him, that is was more like 90% him and 10% me.  He is the one asking for help and direction.  He was told, “I can NOT chase you, inquire if you have done your work which I requested you to do, call and arrange our meetings.  You have to want this bad enough to pay whatever it cost to be mentored and helped.” The disciples left EVERYTHING to go and follow their master.  They didn’t have it figured out, they had no guarantees; they just went.

If you’re talking about tornadoes, the “suck zone” is a scary place.  When you are talking about discipleship and mentoring, the “suck zone” is the requirement of trust for all the machinery to work and flow properly.   I do not think that was an easy thing following after God with skin.  In fact, I think they had their moments where they longed for their old life and comfortable “go no where” routine.  It might still be scary for you to risk 90% of the effort, but it is how most relational “kingdom” leaders are raised… probably 99% to 100% of the time.


Categories: Uncategorized
  1. April 9, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    Discipleship 90/10….good word!

  2. Braedon
    April 10, 2010 at 9:37 am

    I definitely had this 50/50 mindset before reading this, but i get it. You can’t pour into a disciple if the disciple isn’t hungering and “sucking” on what you have. Lots of effort on their part and what you can give naturally flows out of yourself. Good word, Paschall.

  3. Michael
    April 10, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    very encouraged by your response Braedon…

  4. Seth Barnes
    April 21, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    This is a fantastic blog, Paschall. Very, very helpful. Gonna crib the concept & some of the blog to share w/ others. Thanks.

  5. April 27, 2010 at 6:38 am

    Hey Mike. Great blog. Inspired and practical.

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