I had lunch with a friend recently. He knows that I’m doing some writing on discipleship. He asked me about my project, as well as the books that I’m reading, and what I think about how people grow in their walk with God.

He put down his fork and looked me in the eye. He asked me: Are you going to be real about how growth happens? He was nicer than that, but the question was clear. Would I write about theories, or would I acknowledge the reality that growth isn’t always easy, and that our lives are messier than most of us let on?

I’m grateful for his question. I thought of it as I read Jared Wilson’s excellent book The Imperfect Disciple: Grace for People Who Can’t Get Their Act Together. When asked the write the book, he told the publisher:

How about a book on discipleship for people who don’t feel saved each morning until they’ve had at least two cups of coffee? How about a book on following Jesus for the guy or gal sitting there in small group always wondering if it’s safe to say what they’re thinking? For the sake of the cut-ups and the screw-ups, the tired and the torn-up, the weary and the wounded—how about we demystify discipleship?

That’s my kind of book on discipleship!

If your life is messy, and you’re not quite where you had pictured you’d be, and you’re embarrassed by some of your thoughts and the things that come out of your mouth, then good news: discipleship is for people like you too. Let’s drop the masks. Let’s stop pretending. And let’s lean into what God is doing in our lives, even in — maybe especially in — the mess.