Losing the Training Wheels
One of the greatest experiences that I have had as a dad has been to teach my boys how to ride a bicycle. There comes a day when the training wheels must come off, and you run beside the two-wheeled vehicle with one hand on the handle bars and the other on the back of the seat. You intermittently loosen your grip to make sure that your child is keeping his balance. Then finally you let go. You stop running and watch your son ride down the street as you stand by the curb panting.
The end of the ride concludes with a calculated stop or perhaps one that unexpectedly results with a child who is lying underneath a bike and lying on the top of asphalt. No matter how short or long-lived the journey, you cheer and celebrate the distance. You pick up the bike and the child, and then you go again. You did it! You did great! Let’s do it again! The words of encouragement motivate to a greater distance and energize a confidence that grows with every subsequent ride.
Training wheels are temporary. They are designed as a security and an aid for the novice rider, but at some point in time, there must be a graduation date. A day where the screws must be loosened, the thin, balancing wheels come off, and you become a bicyclist. What began as assisted riding has now become independent ownership.
Churches need training wheels, but healthy churches are the ones that are consistently removing training wheels and placing them onto someone else, walking and running alongside those less spiritually mature as God teaches them how to stay “balanced.” Discipleship is learning to lean on Christ who is a better, more capable and qualified Sustainer than two circular, revolving objects on axles. Those can break or become detached. Jesus never will.
Don’t let fear keep you riding with training wheels. Start a ministry. Teach a class. Share your faith with a co-worker or family member. Ride with holy confidence. You belong to Him and He belongs to you. You may no longer have training wheels to keep you propped up, but you have a Father who is present when you lose your balance and find yourself on hard pavement.
Don’t throw your training wheels away. Put them on someone else and help them to learn to ride.
(Matt. 28:19-20; 1 Cor. 3:1-2; Heb. 5:12-14)